A Commute in August // Too Old For This?
This morning I stood near a man on the train. He was Indian, with dark skin, a sure beard, and I was too afraid to stare further, but I felt in my bones he was very attractive. I looked down at the small shopping bag he was carrying; it said “Atrium” on it. Research tells me it is “an upmarket outfit in a stately space for designer denim & trendsetting fashions, shoes & accessories.” There was a flyer in it, but I didn’t see what it said. He looked like he was reading some kind of document on his phone. It looked like they were bullet points on it.
The train filled up with people and we moved closer, occasionally brushing wrists. And I thought: what if we weren’t strangers? We’d be standing in the same exact spots, but looking at each other, speaking. What if we had spent the previous night together in bed, what if we woke up together? Would we have more to say, or less? I looked at his hands; no rings. That doesn’t mean anything, though, based on the engaged man I went on a date with a few nights before. (I only found out he was engaged through some social media surveillance.) I’m that age now — where the men I date could secretly be engaged.
When he got off the train with everyone else at Union Square, I was relieved, because I could stop being nervous. I’m that age now — where I don’t hope for more time so the cute stranger to magically notice me and say something, but that he would just leave and that fantasy would be replaced by my regular routine.
Take the F to Rockefeller Center. Walk to the end of the platform, to the exit closest the office. See the halal guy start to cook his meat for the lunch crowd, see the chicken redden and the onions grow more translucent. Maybe get an iced coffee at the cart. See the woman whirl the cup so the sugar mixes in, and it’s pleasant because many vendors just expect you to do all the mixing.
But then the attractive Indian man walks back on the train. He just left it so others could get out. A gentleman! He ends up going on my route, and I follow from a distance, but it’s more multitasking than stalking (he’s on my same route!). At some point he disappears, and I get my iced coffee, and cross the street, and wait for the elevator, and walk to my desk. Phew.
I notice there are a few flattened popcorns near my wheeled chair. I chuckle because I histrionically feel like have more in common with the flattened popcorn than most people I saw that morning, from the girl who gave up her chair for the old lady, to the tall and beautiful Spanish girl with the shirt held together only by one single, loose knot in the back, to the man whose Siberian husky, on a leash, splayed on the subway floor like a large a tilde (~) with its eyes opening and closing. That was the most eye contact I have made in a long time, with the dog.
Am I too old to think like this?