Friday, March 23, 2007

Sitting in a train station

For such a large train station, the Jamaica Station has a very small indoor waiting room. The waiting area itself has just three ticket windows and one bench that sits against the far wall and that can hold only four people, a few automatic ticket vending machines and a little alcove where one can buy a paper or magazine and some snack items.

Sitting on the bench against the wall after her job interview in Queens, she watched a couple who were on the other side of the room as they stood waiting for a track to be posted. And while watching them, she saw herself and Harry as they stood in Penn Station three weeks ago. This couple, considerable younger than she and Harry but not teenagers, looked like they belonged together. And yet she knows full well how deceiving looks can be. To those observing her and Harry a few weeks ago, they too probably looked like they were together. And yes, in so many ways they were during those moments in time, and yet in one or two fundamental ways, they remain worlds apart.

She sat watching as the young woman, long dark hair and black coat, stood right next to the man she was with, and watched as their body language spoke volumes about them. She watched as they leaned toward each other, always seeming to drift into one another space… or as one hand would blindly search for the hand of the other and then hold it in a way that seemed so sweet to her. His arm would circle around her waist and he would run his hand up and down her back. She knows what all that feels like. She can close her eyes and feel Harry’s hand in hers, or his arm around her. And if she keeps her eyes closed she can feel Harry’s mouth on hers and remember what he tastes like.

She has observed Harry and herself as if strangers were looking at them, similar to the way she is watching the couple in front of her. She has this ability to look at them from afar, in an out-of-body experience kind of way. She first did this when they sat on the subway together, traveling to their respective train stations almost two summers ago, after their trip to the Museum of Natural History. She watched their reflection in the window of the subway and saw two people who looked as if they belonged to one another, and yet they did not. They held hands, they lightly kissed, and they did not talk much. She didn’t know how difficult it was going to be to say good-bye to him. Every parting with him has been difficult and she wonders if he struggles with the good-bye’s as much as she does? If she knew when the next “Hello” would be, maybe the goodbyes would not be so hard.

While closing her eyes for a moment to think about all these things, the couple she was watching disappeared. In her imaginary world, she sees them sitting next to each other, holding hands, traveling to who knows where, but the important thing for her is that in her mind, they’re together. Unlike she and Harry, who stand in train stations with their arms around each other, waiting until it’s time to kiss goodbye, and she, wanting so badly to know when the next kiss “hello” will be.

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