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As Fast as a Train
As Fast as a Train
When I lived in Chicago, I used to take the train to get around in the city. There was this guy I used to see on the train all the time who would lean up near the door across the aisle from me. I had never seen him before and I did not know him, but there was one small thing about this guy that caught my breath and wrapped it around me tight until my chest felt hollow. He reminded me of someone I could have possibly been in love with. Or should I say, he reminded me of someone I used to see everyday, someone who I could have fallen in love with, but I never actually knew him.
Every morning I would pass this guy on the street. I'd be walking southeast each humid summer morning and he'd be heading the opposite direction, and each day at the same time we'd meet in the exact same moment over and over again. My right foot would step off the curb into the street and he'd be stepping up and he'd quickly glance and then look down to me, almost as if to make sure he didn't trample me in the hurried crowd yet spotted me for sure. We never said a word to each other or shared anything more than a single glance each day, but for four long months, it was the only consistent interaction I had with anyone.
What I knew about him was rumor mostly, the ramblings of friends of friends at parties when I'd ask around if anyone knew about the tall guy who worked on Michigan Ave and carried that great leather bag and wore crazy Italian t-shirts. Only a few people knew his name but everyone I asked knew him, and they swooned about him as much as I did. But no one had any idea how I could get him to fall in love with me.
I'd pass him each weekday morning and I'd glance over my shoulder and watch him hurry across the street and into his office, and I'd think about the chances that I'd ever really meet this person and know him, all because I passed him on the street each morning. For four months I'd been passing this guy, five days a week, 107 days all together, and each day he'd look up just as I stepped off the curb, and he'd smile, and we'd both keep walking.
Considering the number of people on this earth, 6 billion or so to date, and that each person gets perhaps 1 soul mate to call their own, and perhaps they only have two or so encounters with this person in their lifetime, just for kicks that's a 2/6,591,078,000th of a chance that they'll actually fall in love with the soul mate they've been allotted. Two six billionths of a chance, and I had 100 times that in the course of one hot summer.
There's so many other factors to consider to why this guy and I never fell in love. I have to remind myself of this daily, of weather and vision and unknowable chaos variables and all my inhibitions which preclude me from being able to leave voice mail messages for strangers, let alone accost one on the street with my romantic notions and irrational thoughts. Then you'd have to take my simple formula and multiply it by at least 20% to make up for all that time we're not even aware that we're breathing, let alone keeping an eye out for the person we're supposed to love. Finding that person takes time and attention and most importantly, by the love of God, luck.
On the morning I left the city, I packed myself into my car and drove down the road I had walked down every morning for the past 107 days. I stopped at a light and while I waited I heard a knock on my passenger side door, and there was this guy motioning for me to roll down the window. This guy whose eyes I had looked into every morning and had never, ever spoken to. "Hey!" he said, "Are you moving??" I replied yes, I was in fact moving 3,000 miles away.
And he smiled at me the same way he had 107 times and said simply, "OK. Well, good luck."