A few years ago I went to see Inside Llewyn Davis at a movie theatre in lower Manhattan. What I thought was truly amazing about the movie was that a hundred people could watch it and every single person would have seen a different movie.
After, I was waiting on the subway platform for few minutes when I made eye contact with a pretty girl with long brown hair. She came up to me and asked me how long I had been waiting for the train. “Not long,” I said. Normally, that would be the end of the conversation. I don’t like talking to strangers. I find it stressful and terrifying. But for some reason, I kept the conversation going. I asked her where she was going. “Penn Station,” she said.
Our train rolled up and we kept talking. I asked her what brought her to Union Square. She told me she worked for a non-profit and they just had a party for all of their donors. And then we talked about nothing for a while. The movie I just saw, the density of the 1 line, why Times Square is just the worst.
Her stop was before mine. She thanked me for the conversation and left. I never do this, but as the train doors were closing, I jumped out and ran after her. I didn’t know what I wanted to say.
She was running to catch a train, and even with the way my feet are, I knew I could catch up. I didn’t even know what I was going to say. Maybe just, “I liked talking to you. What’s your name? I want to talk to you again.” That isn’t much, but it is how I felt and I would accept whatever reaction I got.
But then I stopped. Just for a moment. I wondered how long I could follow her before romantic became creepy. I decided to just go for it because I knew I would not be any worse off by taking this risk. But by the time I made the decision, I couldn’t see her anymore. She was lost in the crowd and nothing I could do would change that.
I got back inside the Subway and there was a busker on the platform, a person playing an acoustic instrument. I listened for a while. My train rolled up and I boarded it. It may sound strange, and maybe a little obsessive, but it felt lonelier.
Anyway, here are more stories like that one.
The cashier at Home Depot who told me to cheer up and how I was too young to look so sad, when I didn't feel in the least bit down and was simply looking around.
I was at a coffee shop waiting for a friend a few years ago, visibly upset after locking my keys in my car right after getting frustrating news from my doctor.
A guy was studying a few tables over, walked over with a folded piece of paper and passed it to me. Written on it was "whatever it is don't worry - life has a way of sorting itself out" and walked away and left me to it.
He later came back with a napkin 'cause my mascara was running, and offered to call AMA for me. Stand up guy, should've at least asked his name.
So thanks cute coffee shop guy with the star tattoos on your arm! You still cross my mind every now and then.
When I was around eight, my mother and I were at a bank standing in line behind a guy with two fingers missing on one of his hands. He caught me staring and started telling me a long winded story about how he'd gone to a gator show in Louisiana. The tamer did a trick were he had the gator hold its mouth open as he swiped his hand between the teeth thee times. He then offered a cash reward to anyone in the audience who could repeat the trick and the man telling me the story had volunteered. He went up to the gator and had it open its mouth. He swiped his hand through and nothing happened. He swiped his hand through again and nothing happened. He swiped his hand through a final time... and nothing happened.
The man then told me to always make sure a lawnmower is off before I try to unjam it.
I attended a Tool concert while I was in the midst of going through a divorce. I was in a line to buy beer and a beautiful girl in a parallel beer line kept staring at me. When i caught her gaze she smiled at me, this happened a couple of times. I was too awkward to go over and talk to her, but it made me feel good about myself at a time when I needed it.
I was at rock bottom. I felt so alone, drunkenly making my way home one night. The 'everything is okay' mask was too heavy to keep on. I must have looked pretty desperate. A gang of rowdy lads was storming past me, probably making their way to some party. A tall, aggressive-looking guy at the back of the group glanced at me as he was passing. I was following him with my eyes as he passed since I half expected him to attack. He took a few steps, stopped, then swung around to me. I thought I was about to get the shit kicked out of me. But he just stepped over to me, looked me straight in the eyes, put a hand to my face and said a few kind words.
I'll never forget that gesture. Not just because it was unexpected; I felt like someone cared, even if it was just a stranger. If you're feeling low just remember someone cares about you, too. Even if it's just a stranger you haven't met yet.
Ah, lost loves.