I was so tired and all the driving didn’t really help with all the soaring issues that needed to be sorted out in the following week. Today was just one of those days where I had decided to dress like a hippie, hair all miserable, and my old Dartmouth T-shirt on, and ear phones to avoid the crowd as I set out towards the metro station. It was 9:15 right on clock except too crowded to even step into.
So I waited for the next one. There was just one more person at that station next to me that night. I looked at him but then was too tired to strike a conversation. It didn’t stop me from noticing that smile though.
The next train arrived. Neither of us stepped in as it was too crowded again. This time he looked at me and I smiled back. The song playing through my ear phones was perking up the mood in ways that I really wouldn’t want him to know.
Our next 10 minute wait started and went by in silence. When the next, finally empty train came in I was too absorbed in the music to notice. I felt a strangers hand pat my shoulder and pull me in with a “You really don’t want to miss this one, it’s really late”. His voice had brought me back to the void that was this universe and left this unusually happy feeling inside me. It had been a while.
The 10 stops in between neither of us said a word but I could feel this aura between us that was undeniable. I wanted to talk and cursed myself for looking like a complete slob that day. I’m pretty sure he noticed because I didn’t try to hide the fact that he was observed, noticed and I was in awe.
20 minutes later, his stop came and he left. He came in, no warning and left just the same. But the intensity of that time left me thinking all through my ride home. In my head I had conjured these universes where we’d meet again, mysterious circumstances, make a story together that was worth narrating even to that relative you’d absolutely loathe. Maybe, it was that disgusting music I’d kept playing.
I smiled because that’s the power of a moment, you don’t need a story, just 20 minutes that help you heal from a gruesome month.
“You won’t believe what happened last night!”
“Pick up the damned phone. I had a moment of sorts”.
“Yes. A Moment”.
“So I had a conversation with a client a few months ago. And didn’t really result in a deal, but we parted on good terms. Anyway, fast forward to last night, he found one of our advertisements that I’d curated recently and since it had my email address he kind of texted asking if we were the same people”.
“Uhuh. Go on”.
“Anyway, when I said yes, he told me it was a good ad. I mean, it’s nice to know that your work is being recognized. And then he asked me why I spent so much time doing what I did when I could always relax. I told him I liked being busy and while most kids have college, I had this. He told me that was the most confident line I’d heard in a while. I had no idea where this conversation was going since it was midnight but I liked talking to a complete stranger in that moment”.
“What in the universe do you do at midnight? Can’t you be a normal person and sleep?”
“Hey, first of all I never started this, he messaged me. Anyway, right after him talking about how great the ad was, I thought he was considering taking it up. So I asked him if he was up for a 5 minute conversation and he said sure. Anyway, so I called him like an idiot post midnight and while he was all sharing pleasantries and asked me how I was, at the same time I asked him if he would take the deal”.
“Oh my God, it was that late and all you had to say was about the deal? Can you stop working for a second and ask people how they are? Although this hilarious. Go on”.
“Dear Lord, please stop laughing. I’m still embarrassed from that. And as surprising as this may sound he laughed when I asked him about the deal. He wasn’t even offended. So he asked me if the deal was all I wanted to talk about. And I told him while the deal was a very ,very huge reason why I called, I was pretty sure he was a super interesting person. I could feel him smirk on the other end of the phone. And then we went from talking about that ad, to what we wanted out of life to all the times and places we travelled to. And I couldn’t stop laughing because he was so funny and all the things I left behind last year were worth remembering just for a while. He told me about the random strangers that he met in taxi cabs that changed his life in so many ways and for the first time rather than talk, I listened. It was a good change. And we talked until 2:30 AM in the morning”.
“I can feel you smiling as you’re saying this. So, what’s his name?
“Can you please stop driving like an old lady?”
“Would you rather prefer we were both dead? Also, it’s starting to rain, so calm down”.
“You still hung up on that time at the train station? You seemed unusually happy today”.
“Well, I have thing a thing for unforgettable eye contact moments”.
“You’re a diehard romantic aren’t you? How many Bollywood songs were running through your head while that happened?” I said while I couldn’t stop laughing as she had found a new muse for the week. Hell, she’d probably decided what to name her hypothetical future kids after that one moment.
“Oh shush, you’re one to talk”. I smiled while not answering that statement as the rain started pouring.
“Do you think you’ll see him again?” I semi-screamed through the traffic that defined my city.
“Do you?” she retorted.
I thought for a while and answered, “Maybe I don’t want to. I had a beautiful genuine conversation after the longest time I can remember with an absolute stranger I had never met. And in some sense, it was perfect. And I want to keep it that way and remember it for just that, a conversation”.
She knew what I meant. Some stories are just that, moments. Your story doesn’t need to have a beginning or an end or even an expectation. You need to let things pass you by and let go and remember with smiles that could light up everything around you. So you make peace, and hold them dear, because that is what life is, a collection of moments. And as I kept driving, I couldn’t wait for the next one.