Here is the baseline: I really like Thomas; I haven't felt so strongly - in the sense of being able to see a future with him - for anyone since Wouter; and I want it to work, I really do. Apart from his qualities which I've talked about previously, we have a few important things in common, such as a general interest in literature (poetry and short stories for him; novels for me), in ideas (he recently bought a book by Peter Singer), in old European architecture, in culture. He uses the semi-colon even more frequently than I do; that's saying something, for I think I over-use it sometimes. This tiny detail is not insignificant, for it shows, at least to me, the person's sensitivity to language. Have I not always banged on about wanting a man who reads - and so relatedly, a man who can construct not just grammatically proper, but stylistically impressive sentences?
But here's a competing fact. He's leaving for the US on September 8. He will be based in Florida for four years. So while I really like Thomas, it is nevertheless undeniable that, if this were to continue when he leaves, I will be completely overturning what I'd thought that I would do post-PhD: go back to Singapore, or find a job somewhere in Asia (Hong Kong, most likely), partly because it's easier and pays more, and because I want to be close to my parents. While I'd meant it when I said that I was open to moving to the US, and I am still open to it, the complicatedness of this choice - of choosing this man - are suddenly so stark, so glaring, in the face of a competing choice that is potentially easier, even if non-ideal.
This is the competing choice: the Singaporean dude from this entry. I didn't meet him again before coming back to Cambridge, and kind of ghosted him by inadvertence, but he'd texted me something (I can't remember what) when I was back in Cambridge and since then, we'd talked a bit. By that I mean I take ages to reply to his messages - and by ages I mean a week or more. Sometime towards the end of January, he'd mentioned coming to the UK and asking me out. I hadn't met Thomas yet and I'd just ended things with Vegan Cardiff Guy, so I was open to it, even if not completely enthused, and told him that I would meet him if he came here, but I didn't want him to come to the UK just for me.
Today, he said, 'I'm going to the UK for a test. Want to go out? :p'
Why should it matter that he'd said this? I wasn't very interested after the date. I was even a bit bored during the date. I was wary of how he'd kept talking about how much money he makes, how he asks for outrageous salary increments when applying for a new job, how people who are losers only have themselves to blame for being losers. I can understand the last point; he'd gone to ITE or whatever, was basically the worst academic performer in his family, but he worked for what he wanted and now he's loaded; so I can understand that mentality. At the same time, while I self-identify as a capitalist (even if partly facetiously), his capitalist mentality was a bit scary, even for me.
So what's the relevance of this guy? The relevance is that he's Singaporean. The relevance is that he lives in my country where my parents are. The relevance is that choosing him would not require me to turn my life plan inside out, upside down, possibly deviate from my academic career path. Even if it's not something that I really want, it's still the path that I'm on, and getting off it, the very thought of it, scares me as much as it excites me.
The relevance of this guy, too, is that he's rich. He's rich, and he's clearly into me - or at least, he really likes the idea of me. It's been three months or so since we'd gone out and he's still interested, so I guess I must have made a bit of an impression. And because he's rich, I wouldn't have to worry about money and would most likely lead a comfortable life. As materialistic and superficial as it sounds, it is important to me that I continue to lead a comfortable life; that I don't trade down.
At which point does 'I really like him' reach its limits? Merely having strong feelings for someone, however sincerely and genuinely and deeply held, isn't enough in itself to overcome real life obstacles. The mere fact that I am in love with someone, so much so that I have moved to the other side of the world to be with him, isn't going to get me a job in the place where he has his career going - and while I could potentially change my career path, I am not the type of person to sit around and do nothing while the man brings home the bacon, as it were. I will resent not only myself, but also him; I will resent him for reducing my life to that of a housewife with nothing, just a house to keep. I will also resent him, and myself, and the relationship, for putting me in a position where I am financially reliant on him. My parents did not bring me up to be a woman who relies on a man for her basic and material needs; they have taught me to be independent, and I am independent, and so it drives me crazy that I am not currently financially independent.
If only love were the only solution we'd ever need to all our problems. But it's not. Love runs out when it finds itself backed up against the harsh reality of its limits and inadequacies in the cold, pragmatic world where immigration and employment laws are incapable of taking into account, let alone accommodate, the singularity of the individuals whom they rule with an iron fist. I have been through this; I know how it works; so why am I thinking that it'd be any different now? Just because I haven't been through the experience of trying and failing to find a job in the US? Such are the consequences and implications of my baseline - that I really like Thomas, that I haven't felt this way for anyone since Wouter, and that I want it to work. But how? And why, when there's a potential option who can take all these problems away just by virtue of his Singaporeanness?
It would be an easy choice even if I wasn't very interested; after all, I wasn't completely uninterested, and maybe I could grow to like Singaporean Dude. It would make my life a lot easier. Or let's forget about him - what would also make my life a lot easier is to give up on the idea of Thomas, go back to Singapore and settle down with the first guy who is up to scratch and whom I reasonably like. I don't think it would be hard for me to find someone who fits these loose criteria; the problem for me has never really been about finding someone to date, but about finding someone with whom to settle down. (I am being a bit imprecise here but I don't feel like getting into the specifics right now.)
It would be an easy choice...if I were truly someone capable of making such a choice. That is: choosing the pragmatic option over the option that the heart wants. If I were someone capable of that, I would be married by now, probably with kids, living in a standard-issue modern condominium with safety deposit boxes for rooms in Singapore.
This seems to be a constant refrain in my life, but it's fitting, so why not? If only things were simpler. If only I were simpler.