She had a particular scent, hard to place but it wasn't overwhelming, simply detectable and pleasant. Hint of soap, some kind of earthy lotion a girl might acquire at Lush, and something flowery. I tilted my 120GB Zune at an angle so that she could see the screen light up with the cover of the newest Revolting Cocks album. A litmus test, because I'm assuming that this girl may have similar interests. More than assume, it's this bizarre, overwhelming attraction to a girl whose face I can't see and whom I've never met in my life. She's too busy reading, doesn't even notice. Her head is down, body drawing into itself except for her black gloved finger as it scans along each sentence.
I want to remove my headphones and get her attention. Not even with conversation, just keywords, meta tags spoken aloud to see if she responds to any of it. References to counter-culture, music and literature. It isn't just the mystery that compels me. As soon as she sat down, before I even looked in her direction, I became aware of her in some distantly visceral, primal way. I'm not even using artistic license there, it was really like that. But I can't even see her, and I look at some of the other people standing around, some of them were looking at her too, which probably meant she was pretty - or hideously deformed from the mouth down. If I did talk to her, would the people watched with detached interest as she asked me to please stop bothering her with incoherent gibberish? "What the fuck is a 'Skinny Puppy'"?
I started thinking about missed opportunities. What if this girl sitting next to me, whom I will never get to know because it's the wrong time, was the one woman on earth I could effortlessly spend the rest of my life with? Should I let awkward people on a too-close-for-comfort train ride inhibit lifelong happiness? And what if I did talk to her, and she felt my presence too, and inexplicable comfort by being near me. I thought about this for the rest of the ride to 16th Street. What do you call a missed opportunity in slow motion?
I just got out of a relationship with a smart and beautiful woman. It had to end because my career is my first priority, and it's been a very rough ten years getting it to this point. But there was a powerful reaction the this girl as she sat next to me, and I would imagine that it is that kind of sudden shift in any person's awareness that causes a re-evaluation of things. The train stops and the girl gets up, makes her way to the door. The crowd continues to obscure her from my view but I finally catch a glimpse of her though the window as she walks in the opposite direction, forever unknown to me. She is beautiful.