When I came to Bangkok, I planned to keep dating around and enjoying the single life just like I did back in the U.S. Obviously every time I write about my ex there’s still some bitterness and anger there (Ross, if you’re reading this, just like you’ve apparently been looking at my LinkedIn profile, fuck you) so I think it would be unwise to really date someone until those feelings have finally mellowed some (what if they never do? Is that possible?).
I went on a handful of dates my first few weeks here: an IT guy from Pakistan, an IT guy from India, a writer from India, a statistician from India, a dancer from Chicago, and a PhD student from Sri Lanka. (Yes, I am aware of the developing pattern. It’s not intentional. White guys in Bangkok don’t want a white girl.) They were all fun, and weird, in their own ways. The Pakistani guy was really funny, but fell a bit hard a bit fast (he still texts and says things like, “Tell your mother her future son-in-law says hi!” He’s joking, but at the same time…is he really?). The writer was smart, but young—very, very young. Like, same age as my college students and, therefore, almost-a-decade-younger-than-me young. No. Just no. The Chicago guy was nice, but too into limb-pulling, and the Sri Lankan is sweet, but, like the Pakistani, we may have to have the “I am not looking for a relationship” conversation soon.
Then there’s the statistician: Kushal*. Kushal and I met during my second week in Bangkok. We’d connected via Bumble. I liked his profile because not only was he attractive and had a warm smile, but his bio was clever with just a touch of self-deprecating humor. We went out to a French restaurant just down the street from where I now work. We talked about our past relationships and I learned that, like me, Kushal had also recently been dumped by his long-distance long term girlfriend. “I’m on Bumble just looking for friends,” he said. “I hope that’s okay.”
“Totally fine,” I said. “I am not looking for a relationship anytime soon.”
We parted ways with a hug and that was the end of the night. Well, that was the end of the night with Kushal. I headed down the street to meet another guy for drinks; a guy who I thought was a friend, but it turns out he wanted to be more than friends and has since stopped talking to me when I had to have the “I think you’re cool, but we’re not dating” conversation. Single life: it’s a love/hate relationship.
For our second get together Kushal and I met at a craft beer bar. Because he’d said he was just looking for friends, I assumed that meant we were just hanging out and would again part ways with a hug. That, however, did not happen (is any guy going to want to date me again after they learn I’m writing about them?). Kushal was much more flirtatious than the first get together (date? what makes it a date?): compliments, innuendos, and comments like, “Maybe I’ll get to see that tattoo on your mid-back soon, eh?” The night ended at his apartment. Since joining the dating life, I’ve learned to never spend the night with a date because, for some reason, spending the night makes me feel just slightly attached. Kushal was tall, smart, and funny—just my type and, therefore, way too easy to fall for. Once the fun was over, I practically ran out of that apartment: kthanksthatwasfunbye!
Our next few meet ups followed the same pattern as the craft beer night: dinner and/or drinks, witty and flirtatious banter, and back to his place. Because I am still single I continued to use Bumble and Tinder. During one week, I met with Kushal on a Thursday and went out with another date the following evening. This guy (we’ll just call him IT Guy) was, again, just my type: tall, smart, and funny. We had a few beers, grabbed a wine bottle, and headed back to my place. At my place we chatted and drank some more. When he leaned into kiss me, I kissed back, but the moment his hands went to my shirt I stopped him.
“No?” he asked.
“No?” I said, not totally sure why I stopped him. Up until that point I’d been living out my dream of being Samantha from Sex and the City: date around and be confident and footloose and fancy free. This guy was cute, a good kisser, and I’d had plenty of liquid courage. So why was my brain saying no?
We kissed again until my hands, again, pushed him away. “I’m sorry,” I said. “That is just not going to happen tonight.” I said something like I was tired or I didn’t hook-up on the first date. In truth, what was going through my mind? The previous evening with Kushal.
I showed IT Guy out of my apartment. I face-planted on my bed, mentally kicking myself. That had to be a fluke, right? I wasn’t actually turning some guy down just because of some other guy, right? My heart is supposed to be dead and cold so that it can never be crushed again. That’s the healthy response to an earth shattering break-up, right? (Once again, Ross, fuck you.)
Let’s also take a moment here and point out that the “whatever it is” with Kushal was not a bed of roses. Yes, we got along great, but there were times where, in-person, he’d say, “Let’s do such-and-such this weekend.” I’d text the next day to follow up on that and I’d get a response somewhere along the lines of, “Ummm about that. Um no. Can’t.” I get that I am a writer so my texts are typically more thought out and have full sentences, so I need to cut other people some slack, but come on. At least sound a bit less flippant?
During one of our last meet ups of 2017 Kushal told me about a new job he’d been interviewing for. When we first met, he’d lamented about how much he hated his current job. He seemed to hate Bangkok in general, but I assumed that was because he and his girlfriend had broken up due to long-distance (him in Thailand, her in South America). I could sympathize because when Ross dumped me he cited his unwillingness to move to Asia as the primary factor. I spent about a month thinking, I don’t want to move to Asia. Asia is stupid. Traveling is stupid. I want nothing except to be with Ross, before I got a reality check and realized one person was not worth such a boring, sheltered life.
By our second meet up, Kushal had landed an interview with a new company. By our third, he’d gotten a second interview. On our fourth, he prepared for his third. Right before Christmas he had just one more interview to pass and then he’d get a final decision as to whether or not he got the job.
We sat in a Starbucks one evening and he talked about his long day and all he had to do before the end of the year and the final interview. “If there’s anything you want for your new apartment you’re welcome to come over and get it,” he said. “I had another friend come over yesterday and she picked out a bunch of pots and pans.”
“Why are you giving your stuff away?” I asked.
“Because I’m moving.”
“For the new job?”
“Whether I get the new job or not. I’m not going to stay in my current apartment.”
“But why get rid of all of your stuff?”
“In case I get the new job.”
I stared at him, still trying to decipher why you’d get rid of everything just to move to another area of the city. “So you’re giving everything away because you don’t want to move it?”
“You don’t want to move it across Bangkok?”
“Wherever I end up.”
“…Where is the new job?”
I took a sip from my drink and raised my eyebrows in what I hoped was a that’s-so-interesting-I-am-totally-not-disappointed-or-sad kind of way. “Ah. Dubai. That’s cool! I didn’t know that.”
His voice went up an octave. “Did I not say the job was in Dubai?”
I had pulled a similar stunt back in the U.S. I was dating a nice guy, told him I was going to Asia, but neglected to add the word “moving.” I didn’t want to say I was moving to Asia because why would you keep seeing someone if you knew they were moving to the other side of the world? As I sat in the Starbucks booth across from Kushal, I wanted to laugh and slam my head down on the table. Hello, Karma, you bitch.
By the time I left Thailand for a ten-day Christmas holiday in the U.S., I was ready to forget about Kushal and start going on dates with random guys again. He hadn’t officially gotten the job in Dubai, but I was fairly certain he would. He was also still doing the “let’s do this!” in person and then “ummm maybe not” via text the next day. I wanted my heart to be dead and cold after my ex, but clearly an inkling of feelings was starting to bud up for Kushal. I was determined to stomp them out before returning to Thailand. I vowed to “dump” any other future guy I may start to develop the slightest hint of feelings for. Mindless, emotionless dating from now on—huzzah!
Upon returning to Thailand, I stood in the Immigration line at the airport. I pulled out my cell phone and scrolled through the messages that had been sent while I’d been in the air for nearly eighteen hours. Then texted Kushal. Why? I wasn’t even technically in Thailand yet because I still had to get my Visa on Arrival, and I had screwed up purchasing my exit ticket so I was just the tiniest bit nervous that I would not be allowed into the country this time. So why text Kushal the moment I landed? Because apparently I hate myself.
Immediate response from Kushal: “Georgia! You’re back!”
And that, ladies and gents, is all it took for me to get sucked in once again. Sucked into feelings for someone who is absolutely moving to Dubai. Just kill me.
So the past two weeks have been spent making plans with Kushal, and blowing off the other nice guys who have asked me out. I did got out with one guy, but spent the entire time faking “the spark” because all I really wanted to do was hangout with Kushal. I texted this sentiment to my best friend back in the States. “Awwwww,” she replied. “You like him.” I couldn’t find an accurate emoji to express please just stab me in the eye and the heart because I never wanted to like anyone ever again. Also he is leaving the country. It’s like I am destined to never like a townie.
Last night, I met Kushal at a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms. He’d officially resigned from his job and, because he’s Indian, can only remain in Thailand for seven days when unemployed. First off, Cabbages and Condoms is an awesome restaurant with great food, a cool outdoor area, and much of the proceeds go towards sexual health and education. And your bill comes with two condoms. How great is that?
It was also, I thought, a humorous place to have a last meal. Kushal was recovering from a severe flu that required a visit to the hospital, so while we were surrounded by phallic shapes and spoke in nothing but sexual innuendos, there would be nothing actually physical happening that night. (He didn’t want to pass his illness onto me. I, on the other hand, had done the really smart thing by overdosing on Vitamin C and taking preemptive cold medicine because I am a wise and responsible adult, who clearly exhibits self-control.) As per usual, our original bonding topic of shared heartbreak came up. Kushal was on an incredible concoction of drugs that made him somewhat loopy and a tad more chatty than usual.
“After you experience heartbreak like we have,” he gestured between us, “your instinct is to be cold and dead forever, but you can’t be, right? I mean, at some point you’ve just got to take the plunge again.”
“I suppose so,” I said. “But I’d rather be dead and cold.”
“This is coming from someone who has had two fiancées.” Kushal looked around the room for a waitress.
I sat straighter in my chair. “I’m sorry. What?”
“Who has had two fiancées?”
He raised his hand to get a waitress’s attention. “Have I never mentioned that?”
“Oh. Yes. I’ve been engaged. Twice.” He waved at a waitress. She breezed past without turning in our direction. I stared at Kushal until he got the hint that I wanted to learn more about the engagements. “Is it really that big of a deal?” he asked.
“Not a big deal, but I dated Ross for seven years and we never even got close to being engaged. Please tell me about these two engagements.”
“Well,” he said, “the first was my girlfriend of eight years. We were engaged for three years while she lived in Milan and I was in India. That fell apart just because of the distance. We’re still friends and there wasn’t a falling out. We just fell out of love.”
“And the second one?”
“That was the last one.”
“What last one?”
“The South American one.” He started to raise his hand again.
The waitress looked as though she would just walk by again, so I turned and smiled at her. I asked for another water, and then turned back to Kushal. “So when you said your girlfriend dumped you in July, you meant your fiancée dumped you.”
He smiled nervously. “Yes.”
“That’s a big deal!”
I wanted to tell him that, had I known the previous girl had been a fiancée, I probably would have done a better job at keeping my feelings at bay. Knowing someone has been dumped by a fiancée—someone who they’d had a verbal and emotional commitment from that they’d spend their lives together; something I never got from Ross—gives the break-up a lot of heft. A mutual break-up with a fiancée or if you are the one doing the dumping—that’s different. That’s maybe just a tiny bit less devastating for you (the dumper, not the “dumpee”). Kushal and I had talked at length at how devastated we’d been at being dumped by people we thought were the loves of our lives. Kushal said he’d wanted to throw himself off of his balcony. I thought that had been hyperbole. Knowing the ex was his fiancée…well clearly he wasn’t exaggerating.
At the end of the night we walked out of the restaurant and hugged. “I’m sorry I’m sick,” Kushal said.
“Oh! Also, I’ll be back next Wednesday.”
“Yes, I thought tonight would be our last night together, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m leaving to go scuba diving for a few days, but I’ll be back Wednesday. Could you reserve the day for me? I’d like to spend it with you.”
I’d been mentally preparing myself to have the Cabbages and Condoms night be our last night together. Hell, I’d even dressed up for the occasion. I wanted to say, Would you just let me rip the band-aid already? What the hell are you doing to me?!
Instead, I pulled out my phone and checked my schedule. “I have to work,” I said. “But I can see if someone wants my shift.”
On the train ride home, I texted a Bangkok friend. “Tonight was not the last night with Kushal,” I said. “He’ll be back next Wednesday.”
“What the hell,” she responded. “I’m getting whiplash.”
“Girl, you and me both!”
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