It took me a while to realize because, again, it’s harder to notice something missing than it is to notice something new in your environment. But one morning around 415am as I was getting ready to go for a morning run, I noticed something that wouldn’t have been significant at all in the U.S. And it made me realize how rare public affection is here.
Yes, minor displays are very common. You will see couples holding hands while walking, somewhat routinely. Young, old. New relationship or married for decades. Hand holding is common.
I have not seen two people kiss since I got to Changchun. Not once. Not a goodbye kiss on the cheek when dropping someone off for a trip or for work. No butterfly kisses stolen in the middle of conversations.
This struck me at 415am, when I glanced out my window and saw this:
415am… The streets completely quiet for another half hour or so before the cleaning crews start their daily work.
And one couple shares a furtive embrace.
If you’re losing at Where’s Waldo, here they are:
Both fully clothed. Nothing untoward. And they walked away holding hands a few seconds later. But a simple few seconds of a close embrace against a wall (something that you’d see literally every single day and dozens of times each night in a U.S. city) is simply not done here. People will ‘violate’ your personal space all the time for the sake of getting where they need to go. But two people in love, hugging? It just isn’t done.