While Li Ming couldn’t help but question his own view on things, Yao Ai just pursed her lips at what Duan Zhi Hao had said. “What do you know? I needed to argue a whole lot to be able to do this. And they only agreed because I was able to convince them that it would be best to first let me find something that I liked before having me start to study something. I told them that this way, I would already know a bit about the subject and get better grades for sure.”
Duan Zhi Hao raised his brows at her. “And they believed that? That sounds like a really lousy excuse to me. If I had a child, I wouldn’t let them get away with that.”
Yao Ai furrowed her brow and shook her head. “How is that a lousy excuse? Anyway, I wasn’t always that good in school. While I tried my best, it always needed a lot of effort. So I guess they just kind of expected me to also do badly when going to study at university. So getting some help before probably sounded like it might be worth it to them.”
After hearing that explanation, Duan Zhi Hao actually nodded, agreeing with her for a change. “Well, I guess in that case, it’s not wrong. Some people just need a bit longer. If it works out for you, that’s good. Also, this is much better than just sitting at home, twiddling your thumbs.
“Anyway, let’s not talk about that anymore. As much as I like developing some new skills that I can brag about, we’re finally done with the course for today. I really don’t want to spend the whole time just talking about that. So, what are you going to do for the weekend?”
Yao Ai immediately lit up when he asked. “Well, considering that the course will be finished by then, I’m of course going to go out with some friends. I just need to find somebody who has time first.”
Duan Zhi Hao broke out in laughter when she admitted that. “All busy studying after going out and getting admitted to universities, huh?”
Yao Ai stuck out her tongue, feeling that she really shouldn’t have told Duan Zhi Hao anything. He would always find an opportunity to use it against her in the future. He really wasn’t worth talking to.
She decided to ignore him and turned to Li Ming instead. “So, what about you? I mean, if you don’t have a job and don’t have a girlfriend either, what are you going to do when you have a free day?”
Li Ming raised his brows, feeling that she really made this sound weird. “But you’re without a job just like me and I haven’t heard you talk about a significant other either.”
Yao Ai straightened up, realizing that this was true. But on second thought … “Well, but you’re older than me. I feel like when you’re young, there’s still so much to do. But at your age, that doesn’t seem right anymore.”
“Don’t try to set me up again, there are still more than enough things an old man like me can do. Anyway, I’m not sure yet about this weekend. Usually, these days, I just go out and try some new things.”
Duan Zhi Hao raised his brows and gave Li Ming a deep look. “I know I probably shouldn’t say this but that sounds like you’re having an early midlife crisis. A bad breakup, trying to reorient yourself regarding your career, then trying out ‘new things’ in your free time as well? You sure you’re okay?”
Li Ming couldn’t help but smile wryly. “It’s not that. It’s just that …” He shook his head, not even sure if he should talk about this. Then again, it wasn’t like these two would give up anytime soon. He should just get it behind him. Also, if he wanted to change his perspective, then he needed to start learning to be open about this. Otherwise, there was no use in trying to go forward.
“Fine, you win. I’ll tell you. The story went like this: Originally, I had a crush on a coworker of mine. It went on for some years but never went anywhere because he just wasn’t into me. Things ended badly which … was my fault and I was reeling from that when I met my now-ex.
“He … just swept me off my feet. I didn’t even think that would be possible, not in the state I was in, but he did it. From one moment to the other, my life changed. We had a lot of fun, going out whenever we had a free day together which … happened pretty often since we also worked at the same place and we were usually scheduled together. But after a few months, the whole relationship imploded thanks to the fact that he apparently couldn’t say a single true sentence.
“I broke up with him and couldn’t help but feel that life had … become really boring. I missed his adventurousness but I figured that I don’t need him to have fun in my life. I can find things to do myself. So I did.
“It’s also not like I’m going alone either.” He raised his hands, already able to imagine the kind of things they would say next if he didn’t clarify this. “Anyway, I still have friends after breaking up with him. And even if I don’t find somebody to meet up with on a certain day, I’ll just go out and meet new people wherever it is I’m going.
“Actually, it’s been a lot of fun and I don’t regret that part at all. All of this … well, I just felt like I was stuck. And the one good thing that came out of this relationship was probably that he made me realize that.”
Yao Ai heaved a sigh of relief. “Well, you’re finally talking about it! I thought we’d never get the full story about what was up with your ex.”
Meanwhile, Duan Zhi Hao have Li Ming a long look. He suddenly felt like he understood a bit better. Even though he had just been joking about the midlife crisis, he had to say that he had been a bit worried. Clearly, Li Ming was still really emotional about the breakup. And all those new changes to his life had sounded a bit suspicious.
But hearing this, it seemed that while this indeed had to do with the breakup and it had had a profound effect on him, it wasn’t the kind of effect he had feared it was. No, instead, Li Ming had taken the bad things that happened to him as a reason to change for the better.
Thinking of that, Duan Zhi Hao raised his bottle, giving him a nod of approval. “Well, cheers to you and your future success. If you need any help, you can count on me. I might not be in your line of work, but I do know some people. Maybe I could connect you to somebody or some resource. Whatever you need.
“And if there’s nothing I can do for you career-wise, you can just give me a call whenever you need someone to go out with you. My schedule is pretty casual so I can just move stuff around. So I’m free to go out whenever you need somebody.”