A Report On The Subway Closed At 11

723 Words Oct 1st, 2016 3 Pages
No one spoke English in the bookstore. But there was still an English section — populated by cheap copies of public domain classics like "The Odyssey" or "Jane Eyre." Beyond it, the sprawling window revealed a neon-glitzed row of karaoke bars.

“Excuse me,” a voice said.

It was an American girl — about 20 years old. Boston accent.

“Do you know what time the subway closes?”

The subway in Beijing closes at 11 PM. I learned this firsthand, when a thunderstorm stranded me in the Zhonglouwan Hutong. I plodded back to my hotel as water flooded the cobblestone streets. My shoes practically melted off my feet.

She was a nice girl. After a while, I invited her to grab a drink with me at a cafe down the road. She was down. After all, the subway closed at 11 and it was only 9:30.

It was late summer, 2015. I was 24 years old. I had been living alone in Beijing for the past month.

The American Film Institute sent me to China through a partnership with IDG Media. I had spent the past year battling through AFI’s rigorous — and rewarding — first year. Frankly, I could use some time alone.

Be careful what you wish for.

A teacher once told me, “I’ve been alone in my life and I’ve been lonely. They’re totally different things.”

In Beijing I was mostly alone.

Then I got lonely.

We left the bookstore and went to an erudite cafe called the Bookworm. We ordered drinks. The girl was a journalism major, also living in Beijing on a scholarship.

I mentioned I was a screenwriter. She…
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