Life-Love #8: Catching someone’s eye in a passing train

When I was a student at the University of Toronto, I used to take the subway almost every day. Everyone spends a moment of communal anonymity on the subway. It’s a strange transient place. You are on a moving platform, one that always takes the same path, yet while you’re surrounded by others who often take the same route, the train is just long enough to make it unusual for you to see the same person twice. This makes for an odd daily combination of familiarity and novelty. Sometimes, however, you make a connection. I remember looking dreamily out of the window of the train at dusk, after a long day. I was watching the play of fading red and orange and golden light reflected in the inky, scratched window against which I rested my head. I was so tired that I felt calm. I looked out vacantly, letting my eyes pass over the alternation of dark tunnel or cityscape lit in dusky pastel light. At one point, the train paused just before entering a station and I glanced across at the train across the way. My unfocused gaze scanned the windows and settled on a young woman who, like me, was staring skyward, her eyes full of thoughtful distraction. As the trains starting heaving forward, we were parallel and for a fleeting moment, our eyes met. I smiled and felt the special bond between two passengers who share a moment of exhausted contemplation on the way home. She must have too, for I will always remember her face, bathed in sunset light and her little smile and languid nod, as our trains parted ways.

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