• Jennifer Strube

That Woman


I am beginning to wonder whether I have become that woman. Don’t ask me what woman as you know exactly which one. The kind that has a pseudo-marriage in her 20’s (or even a real marriage, bless her) and turns 30 while doing a sexology retreat at the human potential movement center in California. And then, shortly after, gets a new passport, where her photograph looks blatantly spraytannned from her all-natural blush bronzer that came recommended by the stunning gay clerk at Sephora, who told her all the latest fads for aging 30 somethings. 


And then, in order to keep up with the trends, she wore all of them for her new passport photo.


Including her overly dyed blonde hair to remind her she is still not far from 20 something.


Then, Sephora-dawned glowy passport in tow, she fled the country to write a book about her ex in hopes of proving all stereotypes wrong: that newly-divorced-but-never-married-recently-turned-30-somethings don’t actually flee the country to meet men but to find themselves. At which point, while finding herself in a hot mess of pina coladas and tropical chocolate cake, she also found a hot foreign man who thought there could be nothing better than reenacting the American Revolution on the battlefields of her body, except this time Britain won the war under the quivering shade of a palm tree.


God, I have totally become that woman. 


And here I am in Hong Kong being that woman.


This is worse than I thought. 


The first time I saw that woman was in Turkey in 2003. I was on a photojournalism assignment in Eastern Europe and had tagged on an extra week of my trip to explore the rug haven of Istanbul. Whilst sipping the chewy remains of the bottom drip of my Turkish coffee, I spotted that woman across the cafe.  She was late early 40’s, hair chopped into a ratty splendor of a sexy mess which she wrapped up in a twirled bandana, while her right thumb twiddled a cigarette. Except, she smoked it badly. It wasn’t the sexy kind of smoke, it was more the kind of smoking that woman does because she saw Grace Kelly do it once in the movie Casablanca. And Grace Kelly is exotic. And people do weird things in foreign countries. Like become that woman when they are far from Grace Kelley. That woman sits at the cafe and doesn’t really move all day. Her main goal is to prowl on young unsuspecting foreign men, mostly Israeli or New Zealanders, and inform them of all the latest gossip of the town. These young men, shocked at her international prowess, sit and listen to her stories as they buy her more chewy coffee, but their backpacker vagrancy doesn’t keep them at the cafe long enough for them to realize her pining trends. That woman only has a few stories. She tells the same stories all day long to anyone who will listen and admire her. She is a cougar but the worst kind. The kind that can’t smoke properly and has to flee the country to get any form of male attention, because is America she is only a divorced woman but in Turkey, she is a sex goddess extraordinaire.


Oh God, I have become that woman. 


I exist on three separate continents, my heart spread like apricot marmalade all over the bready planet. I was born in Pennsylvania, my family is near New York, I live at a ranch in California which I rent out to a woman I met in Bali while I passed through Thailand to meet my British conquistador on my way to work in China.


I mean, I have some strong gumby arms, but this is rather ridiculous.


My home is in America.


My job is north of Shanghai.


My pending book is lost somewhere on the desks of New York City.


My heart is spread all over the world.


So yes, on bad days, I do feel like that woman who, give her 10 more years, may have botoxed lips. But on good days I remind myself that Jesus himself was single and he was one year older than me. If God can do it, I can do it.


Or maybe I’ll just write my own Da Vinci Code here in Hong Kong.


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