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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Love at first sight

The reason why I've never believed in love at first sight is because it takes me a while to notice someone. I was in American Lit I in college for a month and a half before it dawned on me that the guy sitting across the circle from me had killer sideburns and amazing blue eyes.

I rode the same train to work for a year straight between 1998 and 1999. Second car from the front, Main Street stop in the first suburb north of Chicago. It took me a couple months to realize there was always a man with flame red hair sitting near me (despite never really being attracted to redheads, he had wavy hipster hair with sideburns. Which, as mentioned above, are key. And he wore a thick silver ring on his middle finger.).

And then the morning train ride became simultaneously the most exciting, petrifying event of my day. Once I became aware of him, I could no longer concentrate on reading my book. I knew he was sneaking glances at me, too, and I was too shy then to do anything but studiously avoid his gaze unless I could somehow plot a way to look across the entire car and take him in at the same time while appearing completely suave.

Entirely. Too. Much. Thought went into these forty-five minutes of torture. Somedays it was almost a relief to not see him on the train (he boarded the stop before mine), but then the sudden panic that I'd never see him again and all was lost (all? There was really nothing, though every morning, I'd psych myself up, and think of a good opening line so we could finally speak.)

Once I boarded the train after work, and through the crush of people, saw an empty seat. I dove for it, and pulled out my book. Engrossed in reading the entire ride home, it wasn't until I stood up at Main Street to disembark that I realized the knee three inches from mine belonged to him.

But time passed, and it got more awkward by the day. Finally, it was winter, and I was bundled up to wait for the train, then hot on the crowded train, I took off my hat and gloves. I didn't notice the gloves falling to the floor, but he did. He picked them up, tapped my arm, and handed them back. I thanked him and turned away, face flaming. Then I cursed myself for several days for not using that as an intro to talk to him. What a waste! But what would I have said? I'd never been very good at striking up conversations with people I wasn't sure I actually had anything in common with. Plus, massive crushes were guaranteed back then to keep me tongue-tied forever.

In addition, I had a boyfriend. One that I was not particularly happy with, which is probably why I became so obsessed with the man on the train. At long last, I got so annoyed with myself and the situation that I started riding a later train.

I saw him once or twice again, after I had moved to the city, and gotten new boyfriends. Long after I had stopped fantasizing about randomly running into him at a bar (which would have been a much easier venue in which to strike up conversation), I saw him at a David Sedaris reading. I suppose that would have been an easier place to talk as well, but I was with another boyfriend, onto my second Kevin, and in case he didn't recognize me, I didn't want to remind him that I was the strange girl who stared at him a lot a few years back.

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