Here is how I met Jinny Chang (in yellow...she sent me this picture six months later). She was a Chinese student from Hong Kong going to school in Vancouver, British Columbia (one of the most beautiful cities I'd ever seen), and only 17 at the time. She was my very
first internet friend. She asked me by-name for advice. I'd read her postings while in Virginia when she'd used a different name. It was obvious she was very young and needed advice--I called Miimii over to read her postings, and we both laughed. We were never parents, but we liked lending words of advice to those younger ones who asked us. Months later, in Korea, I found out this was Jinny. As
Thanksgiving approached, I sent her an email holiday greeting.
On December 20, when I was in a
particularly cheerful mood and wanted to see Miimii off to Japan for her
second Christmas vacation to see her family, a family I'd fought for nearly ten years to meet but was never allowed to, I got a little too jovial on chat. Miimii got upset and said she
didn't want to talk to me anymore. She cut me off completely, and we didn't
speak again for almost two months. My isolation was complete--it was ironic how I saw this whole thing unraveling in my personal life while I was in Turkey just a year before, feeling more comfortable staying in my tent at Incirlik than returning to Virginia to rejection by those who, at the time, said they missed me. I took over 100 pictures of my family in my bags to Turkey. I'm very visually responsive. By some strange intuition, I took not a single photo to Korea.
On the night of December 31, 1997, drunk from a Christmas party, Jinny
and I had a falling out. She said she had feelings for me. I was way older and
treated her with respect. I also expected her to respect herself. I guess
that's a fleeting quality in a man these days? The whole idea about feelings was not unexpected, but made me uncomfortable chatting with her. I didn't want to hurt her, so
I tried to have a serious conversation about her feelings, but she kept ducking the subject and at that point she wouldn't even tell me her first name.
Finally I grew impatient, said some things I shouldn't have said to illicit a response, and we had a
falling out. I suddenly felt I was chatting with a child and I couldn't have it anymore. We didn't communicate for a few months.