The first time I lived in Japan was after college. I lived for a while in special housing for foreign exchange students, where my closest friends were two women my age--a French exchange student and an Italian one. The French one, S, was ethnically Chinese, born in Tahiti, and grew up in New Caledonia, mais comme une vraie française, elle se identifie comme française, et pas comme chinoise ou caledonienne. (Not sure how grammatical that French is... just wanted to see what I could recall.)
She had a way of pulling me in. We'd be sitting in her room on her bed; she'd be looking at a magazine of photography and smoking (everyone smoked, it seemed to me, except me). So she'd be looking at this magazine, and she'd take a drag on the cigarette and thrust the magazine in front of me and say, "What do you think of this photo?" And she'd look at me intently, like it was the most important question of the decade, or at least the evening. And so I'd say what I thought. And if she agreed, she'd say "Yes! YES!" positively joyfully, and we'd talk on about the picture. And if she disagreed, she'd say vehemently, "Not me--I think [whatever]," but not with huge disappointment that we weren't in accord, but just as if it was very necessary to share what she felt.
I felt so delighted when we agreed, and so desperate to understand her point of view when we didn't.
Like me, she had a Japanese boyfriend. One time we somehow got into a conversation that somehow led to something like, What if the two of us kissed? "I don't think it would be cheating," S said, "because we're girls."
I don't have the world's strongest sex drive, but I felt a thrill just then, and a sense of possibility, but also danger.
"I think it probably would be cheating," I said.
. . . Nothing ended up happening.
We stayed in touch for a long time and even now are tenuously connected thanks to Facebook.
This memory brought to you courtesy of mallorys_camera, who was writing about attraction and got me thinking.
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