Mine was love at first sight. Or so I’ve thought.
The first time I noticed her almost six months ago, not her, actually, but the book she was reading, Unbearable Lightness of Being. I knew that book by heart. (The week before, I won an eBay auction of its autographed first edition).
I looked at the young woman with my favorite book and thanked my fate for making me five minutes late for the 7:21 train. From then on every weekday morning I made sure to be late for that train. Sometimes I followed her up the stairs to the station. Other times I felt her right behind me running to catch the train. I tried not to look at her much, but always sat facing her to be able to steal brief glances. I just couldn’t keep my eyes away. Her presence two seat rows away filled me with many desires: to hear her voice, to touch her hand, to keep her from getting off the train in Newark. The thirty three minutes of our allotted time together flew by like thirty three seconds. The remaining twenty four lonely minutes lasted hours.
One Monday in April, when the spring came at full force, I decided to end this torture and talk to her, but she was gone. Has she moved? Has she found another job? Has she taken another train? I’ve waited for two weeks for her to reappear. Two weeks of empty mornings, days and even emptier nights. And then she came back and “our life” returned to normal.
“Today, I will talk to her!” Became my morning motto, but by the time I saw her, my resolve would stay at the train station behind closed doors. I listened to her phone conversations, my eyes in the Times without seeing a word. I was afraid to miss any new detail of her life. I remembered everything storing every bit of information and cataloguing names, places, titles. I recognized her moods in what she wore. Green meant a happier day, blues and browns for a sad or a tired one. An occasional gray suit signified a job interview. I hated those.
Still, I haven’t talked to her.
She got a new job at the end of the long and hot summer. I thought it was a good omen and resolved to approach her. Am I dreaming?
There I was at the station with two minutes to spare before the train’s arrival.
“Good morning!” I smiled and tried to keep my voice from cracking. How long have I waited for this moment!
“What a gorgeous day!”
“Hi. Yes, it’s a shame to spend it cooped up in the office.” She answered shyly, but didn’t turn away.
“I’m Jordan.” I managed to squeeze in and heard the whistle of the approaching train. Now, I had to maneuver myself to stay near her when we sat down.
“Sarah, nice to meet you.” She almost whispered near the train door.
I prayed the seat across from her usual one was empty. Lucky. Sarah stuffed her briefcase in the compartment above and sat down facing me. Boy, was I a wreck! The print off my Times stained my shaky and damp hands. I knew I will need a new one later today and I couldn’t be happier. We watched the station fade away and kept looking at the sky, clear and bright. Even the tinted windows couldn’t diminish its azure crispiness.
I had to say something. Oh, how much I had to tell her! Those silent months worth of thoughts! I wanted to ask her about her new job, her vacation, books she was reading, but no words escaped me. For the first time I sat so near that I could detect a faint scent of her perfume. She was silent, but not very serious. I thought she rather enjoyed my uneasiness.
“Let’s have coffee.” I breathe out.
“Sure. There is a Starbucks in Newark, on the lower level. I have plenty of time.”
What do you talk about with the woman you love who has no idea you do? I opted for books.
Suddenly, Newark is upon us, and we up with the crowd streaming down the staircase to Path trains and exits. Starbucks is full of people in a rush. I only have ten-fifteen minutes to impress her enough for a date. We order our drinks and never stop talking.
“I changed jobs recently and don’t want to be late.”
“Where do you work now?” I pretended not to know the details of her moving seventy floors up.
Is it possible this was our first conversation? I walked her to her Path train and she gave me her phone number. I was in heaven. I flew to my own train and made it before the doors closed.
Pressing my face to the cold window I feel tears on my cheeks.
I wake up like I’ve done every day for the last three years, tears on my cheeks. I’ve had the same dream. Now back to reality, the old dreadful reality. Back to my damning loneliness and emptiness. I know I am a murderer of my love. I never did talk to her that day. We never had coffee. She was not delayed getting to work. She was there. She stayed there.