Paris

A Norwegian man

A half Norwegian half German man said he was ‘6 feet 4’ in an almost perfect American accent.

He was born and raised north of the Arctic Circle. He stayed in the US founding a tech start-up after graduating from an Ivy League school. A casual but smart grey T-shirt, well-combed blonde hair, lean muscles from sailing and skiing. In short, a living example of the new generation of entrepreneurs in the time of globalization.

When he talks about being a co-founder of a start-up, his blue-grey eyes wander a lot, trying to find precise wording to express his mixed feeling. “I mean it is a lot of pressure because the tech industry moves so fast, and you are always anxious trying to keep up,” he takes a sip of his dry cider and continues, “we have an amazing tech team working with our product, but usually when problems happen it is on the management side, and that is super frustrating. I had a staff, who was a very nice guy and we had a really good personal relationship. You know, grabbing a couple beers every now and then kind of friends. But I had to let him go, because it just wasn’t working at office. He wasn’t capable.” “Well, you gotta do what you gotta do, to pay your insane rent in San Francisco, no?” “Exactly!” he cracks up.

When I told him about how I respond to some people in the US asking me “But you eat dogs in China, right?” (I usually just shrug and say, “yeah and we eat American people too”), he tells me about a horrible Tinder date he had in San Francisco. They went to have sushi. After ordering, they started with some small talks. “What do you usually eat in Norway?” the girl asks. He said something about well mostly international food but regarding to traditional Norwegian cuisine, reindeers and whales. The girl screamed, say what?! No!  “She was like seriously mad, yelling ‘I am a member of an ocean conservation organization, and whales are SO CUTE, and how could you eat them?!’” he imitates a valley girl accent in high pitch. “I was a bit annoyed because the whales we eat in Norway are not hunted from wild, and it is not endangering their species, but I didn’t want to ruin the date, so I just went on joking ‘yeah I know, sometimes we eat dolphins too’”, and he bursts into laugh, “and she actually got really upset, so we packed our food and left in an awkward silence.  It was like a 5 minutes date.”

“Well, personally I eat meat because I don’t have the heart to waste our ancestors efforts, fighting hard for us to get to the top of food chain,” I joked, “But honestly how unfair is it that we aren’t supposed to eat whales or dolphins or dogs because ‘they are SO CUTE’? Wait, it is okay to eat pigs because they are ugly? Such discrimination by appearance!” “Haha I will steal this argument from now on!” …Of course, we tacitly kept ours voice low having this conversation in the terrace seat.

When we are walking along La Seine enjoying the sun that finally showed up after a whole month of gloominess, he mumbles how he was jealous of me being back in grad school in Europe. “I like what I do and it’s a lot of fun, but I don’t really see myself continue doing this for the next decade, you know” he says as he looks over the Notre Dame wearing the 9pm golden sunlight across the river. “I am in the middle of being trapped into my career path and still feeling like a child with uncertainty and possibilities.”

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The morning after without a night

I woke up with a cute French guy next to me. I could barely open my eyes, but I felt his smile as he gently stroked my hair. When I got out of shower, he was sitting on the couch, with two cups of tea and some fruits.

It was a classic ‘morning after’. Except that there was no night.

I met him for a couple times at a tennis court. The night before, after playing tennis, we had a very late dinner (Ugh, Europe!) and finished at 1:30am. It was pouring hard, and he was biking, so he crashed at my place. We talked for a while. No alcohol, no kissing, no touching, no flirting. Just tea, blankets and some life-story sharing. He told me about his childhood moving around the world, med school and his mildly wild adventures (recently he swam in the flooded La Seine and got chased by police in the river, with cheering audiences on the banks). I told him about law and policies, life in Asia, and my definitely wild dreams. And then we went to sleep lying next to each other like two kids taking a nap at the kindergarten.

Under the Parisian morning light, everything was so real yet surprisingly not awkward at all. In fact, it felt perfect. So we kissed, and it was indeed perfect.