After a conversation where I answered “where are we meeting again” four times too many, I finally wrangled a third of the class to meet in person.
The first to arrive was the German who towered over our handshake at six foot seven. Our Uzbek classmate with theee Chinese students were next, then the round faced Chinese boy who is adorable and sweet in every way sat down, and last to arrive was my hot pot classmate from last weekend.
We talked in a mix of Korean, English, and Chinese for two hours: we complained about our test, we talked about representative foods from our countries, I explained that America is not full of rich people and don’t believe everything you see in the movies, and we figured out who is the oldest and who is the youngest after which I referred to everyone under 22 as a baby which they did not appreciate (but is true nonetheless).
The Chinese trio on the end later asked if my whole family was American.
I’m not sure if my looks or my mannerisms inspired the question or if it was something entirely different.
After three weeks of seeing their faces through Zoom, it was nice to meet in person. One of the Chinese is the same age as me and we shook hands in solidarity. She held my arm later walking to the station which was sweet and very standard for Chinese female friendships.
Our group slowly wittled down to three after goodbyes and separation. At last I parted ways with the last two, our Uzbek and arm holder.
When I scanned my subway card to go eastward and passed through the gate, something made me look back.
I turned around to find them on the other side of their turnstiles waving goodbye to me.