I love routine in the morning. To have an unpredictable morning is scary to me. When I wake up I already know what I am going to wear and everything is down to the last second. I always leave my home at the same time everyday. I stand by the door and wait for the clock to turn 7:50 a.m and then close the door behind me. I always get to the bus stop 2 minutes and 30 seconds before the bus arrives. I feel better when I see the same bus driver every morning, it makes the day predictable. I get to the subway station and go down the same flight of stairs to the platform and get into the waiting train by the same door and sit in the same seat. When I do that I sigh and know my day has begun. I usually sit there and read. I used to be scared that someone would interrupt me so I would have earphones on. I read 8 books in 2 months and I loved the train ride to work and home everyday. I wouldn’t let anything interrupt that. Until…
For some reason one morning I couldn’t read. I found myself staring out the window and watching the night wake up to face the day.
I don’t quite know what stop it happened but I know it lasted for 8 stops. When the subway arrives on any stop a bell chimes once to let you know the doors will open and then chimes twice to let you know that the doors will close. Many riders on the train are slouched over sleeping. I happen to look up at the door when it opened and she walked with such purpose and looked so strong. She was wearing glasses and her blonde hair was pulled back. It’s short so her ponytail is also short and she has it tucked in somehow so it looks semi-professional. I can’t remember what she’s wearing because I was in a trance with her eyes. I know she was dressed as a professional. Her eyes were a clear blue and I remember saying, (in my head of course), the ocean would be jealous.
I approached her and said hello and I was confident and sure. She looked up at me as she sat down and there was this crinkle above her nose between her eyes as she said hello with puzzled tone. I told her my name and just spoke with her. I asked about her job and listened while she told me what she did for a living. We shared stories for multiple rides until I could get the courage to ask her out for dinner and she said yes,
“Took you long enough.” she said with sarcasm that I was already getting used to.
We went for dinner and the whole time we stared at each other. It was the perfect date, we had a romantic kiss after when I was putting on her coat. I held on to the lapels of her coat and kissed her firmly. I remember she sucked in my breath from being surprised and hummed. We stood there for a second and I realized my eyes were closed. When I opened them, she was staring at me with a smile. We left the restaurant arms linked.
We spent weekends together and would drive aimlessly and decide at the last minute where to spend the night. It would have to be a bed and breakfast, motels were too sleazy. For our one year anniversary, we rode the whole subway line and had dinner at the restaurant where we kissed for the first time.
We never married because we both didn’t need a piece of paper to define our love. We had a ceremony for our families that we would vow undying love to each other. We played “At Last” by Etta James as our song.
We spent the first 3 years of our commitment travelling and going on adventures as much as we could. Every anniversary we would ride the entire subway line and just sit there holding hands. That was 45 years ago. I am still with her, and I know I have tested her loyalty. I am a man after all. Instead of trying to change me she helped me realize I can change myself. She never made me feel like I ever needed to though.
Recently I have been forgetting things. She told me to go see a doctor and also told me to write down what I remember. I forgot where I put my keys and I thought I had them. I walked out and locked myself out of our house. She came home and I was angry that she was so late. She told me she actually was an hour early. I haven’t been to work in months. She says I haven’t worked in 2 years. I suppose she’s right but I don’t know some days. I’m writing this to remember how we fell in love. My doctor told her to make arrangements. I’m writing this so she will never forget that I never forgot.
I have good days and I have bad days.
Today is a good day, I remember quite a lot and I even remember when I forget. Have you ever had that moment when you can’t remember why you walked into a specific room or what you were talking about? Try having that feeling the whole day. She doesn’t know I have written this.
I rode the subway the other day without her and there was this gentleman sitting there reading and I sat beside him and told him about her and how she sat only 3 seats away and she changed my life. He left 8 stops later. I remember 8 stops. That’s when I fell in love. Eight stops later…
That man on the subway never saw me again.