Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I fell in love again today.

She was staring out the graffiti-stained window when I stepped though the doors at West 4th St. Radiohead plays softly in my ears as I plunge my hands into my pocket and slump down into the plastic comfort of my seat across from her. A dog-eared copy of Slaughterhouse 5 sits, knowingly, in her lap, which immediately catches my attention, even before I notice her curly golden locks cascading over her shoulders. Her emerald eyes sparkle with a mischievous certainty, as if she knows the F train cannot take her where she really wants to go.

“That’s one of my favorite books,” I say, in my head, quietly staring at the metal pole next to her, imagining the way she would swoon when I finally worked up the courage to suavely declare my love of Vonnegut out loud.

My thoughts turn to Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time, and I wonder if I, too, have unknowingly become lost in the time stream. I see us driving through the mountains of Vermont, and now the wind stings my face as I glance over at her, her sunglasses gleaming in the crisp autumn air as she watches the leaves change color. I hear the distinctive lilt of her laugh as I charm her friends in the hipster-centric bohemia of some downtown New York bar. I feel the tears burn in my eyes as I watch her slam the door behind her for the last time, as a hateful U-Haul overflowing with her life idles in the street below.

She’s flipping through the book once again, skimming and re-reading until she’s picked up where she left off. I notice the corners of her lips curl into an adorable smirk. “It’s brilliant, isn’t it?” I don’t ask her.

The train makes more uneventful stops, brakes squealing and sparks flying, as the songs shuffle on my I-Pod. “I couldn’t help but notice your smile,” I fail to say aloud.

She snaps the book shut and my heart sinks. Our eyes meet, but we say nothing. We don’t need to. Our non-life together flashes before us both, and we purse our lips in a sorrowful grin at the bittersweet nostalgia of what never was. The brakes squeal once more. The doors open on Jay St.-Borough Hall and she steps off into the rest of her life.

And she’s gone.

I never knew her name. But I loved her anyway.