Saturday, March 1, 2008

On The A Train, Act 2

On the not-so-full A train I was lucky enough to sit kitty corner across from a tall, thin, silver haired woman who reminded me of my father's mother who died in her sleep with a smile on her face in 1990 in her late 70's. Like my grandmother, my train neighbor's wrinkles created the paths of kind expressions, laughter, and a little sarcasm... Though I'm sure, like my grandmother, she had the ability to be angry, demand her just desserts, and fight for her rights.
My gentle neighbor wore a beautiful, softly worn but elegant winter scarf. The textures in the weave whispered quality and someone probably paid a pretty penny for it, but the way she wore it, tossed carelessly around her neck like any cheap scarf, made her look like a model in an expensive magazine. Her jacket was likewise the sort that she may have had for twenty years, but in it's day it cost a bunch and has served her well with its pedigree of endurance and eternal stylishness. I did not envy her fine wardrobe, down to her simple but elegant snow boots, I only admired every bit of it.
I did not want to be her, though a middle-aged woman like myself might be tempted to imagine an equally elegantly clad self in a couple of decades. Instead, I wanted to know her. I stared deeply into her thoughtful eyes as she examined her work - for she spent the entire trip madly editing, or correcting, print-outs of some kind. Perhaps it was her writing, but somehow I imagined they were the work of her students. Her expression was keenly focused on the work, no distractions from stops that came and went, doors that slid opened and closed with dings and shuffling and strollers and other winter coats and scarves and boots of lesser quality coming and going all around her. I sat, from stop to stop, greedily staring at her--knowing she would never notice me. I imagined her fine, thin hands that poised elegantly holding each page before she slid it to the back of the pile, touching my own hand. Caressing my hair. I hope her grandchildren appreciate her. I'm certain they do.
Absorbed in her papers, she missed her stop. Little did I know that I was enjoying stolen moments of observation as I floated on my daydream of being part of this woman's world. When she stood suddenly, sliding her papers into her bag, she looked right at me.
"I missed my stop!" she exclaimed, putting herself together... jacket buttoned, bag on shoulder, pen in purse. I gave her a sympathetic smile, but inside I was happy to hear her velvet, husky voice - soft and low - just as I had imagined it.
I am not a stalker. I would never follow her, seek to know more than was my right a a perfect stranger. But my secret pleasure at observing her is odd, I know. I don't mind if you think that. It's just the way I am. People are amazing. I love them. I value them. And when someone strikes me as particularly interesting or wonderful, I enjoy capturing that... just like this.