You’re Just a Foreigner

You’re Just a Foreigner


The morning I arrived in Shanghai, I was thrilled to finally get back to work. I felt happy to finally have another foreign friend to talk to and she’d agreed to let me stay in her home until I could gather the funds to rent a room of my own. A former customer picked me up from the airport and drove me all the way to my friend’s flat in downtown. The following day, another former customer took me to dinner. We’d been driving around lost, trying to find a seafood restaurant open at 3AM. My customer stopped to ask the owner of a food stand for directions. Later, we invited that handsome guy to dinner. I added his WeChat because he was cute. The customer paid me 1.5K RMB for eating dinner.

The next day, that cute guy from the fish market invited me to have seafood with a bunch of his friends. After, we all went to a karaoke bar and sang our hearts out. The beer had been flowing all night, one thing led to another, and before I knew it we had the most mind-blowing encounter in a cheap hotel across from a KTV. The next day he asked me out and I said “yes”.

We’d been doing that nauseating cutesy couple shit for almost a week – taking endless pics for social media, cooking for each other, going for walks in the midnight summer air. One night, my roommate decided to stay at her boyfriend’s house so I invited my new guy over for the evening. We ordered takeout and fell asleep.

Next thing I knew, I woke up to the sound of my crazy roommate screaming about how I should have told her I was bringing someone over and why didn’t we throw the take out container out right away. She had no trash can in her house and immediately going outside after every meal proved cumbersome after several days. I told her I planned to take it out on my way to work. As for the guy, why should it matter when she has a different one over every other night? Then she told me I had one hour to pack my things and get out. I still feel she completely overreacted to an incredibly trivial situation. I don’t do well with nitpicky types, never have and probably never will. That day I lost my only foreign friend in Shanghai.

Too upset to go to work that night, I booked a room in a hostel. The next day my boyfriend asked me to come stay with him. But his accommodations aren’t ideal.  There’s no bathroom. Shitting and showering are done outside. His air conditioner doesn’t work so it’s always too damn hot in our room. But at least it’s free lodging in Shanghai. That’s still a bargain in one of the most expensive cities in Asia.

When I finally felt well enough to return to work, I met the big boss of our KTV, a Chinese woman in her mid 50s to early 60s who exudes confidence and elegance. She wears long, flowing dresses, several gold rings, and enough make-up to open her own branch of Sephora. She commands an entire room full of unruly men by simply walking through the door. She’s probably mafioso, but I admire her power. I can only hope to be as strong as her if I ever live to see old age. But alas, I’m just a foreigner. Whatever happens to me doesn’t matter.


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