Ghosts of Flings Past

Odd. I just mentioned that I rarely run across men/boys who make me sit up and take notice, then Wednesday night while taking an atypical subway route after work a guy that I was fixated on when I first moved here almost exactly 11 years ago turned up on the 1 train sitting just a few feet from me.

Once before, way back in 2001, this same gentleman sat on the M train across from me on a nearly empty subway car in lower Manhattan during morning rush hour. I wonder if he saw me then. At the time I kind of hoped he hadn’t.

I caught the 2 at Wall St. intending to ride it all the way up to 72nd St., total foreign territory for me but was so put off by the unusually crammed train (typically you can get a seat that far south) that I got off at Chambers and just caught the local 1 across the platform. It would be a longer ride, but I was lazy, wanted to sit and was feeling claustrophobic. As luck would have it, as soon as I ran across the platform and the doors closed, the 1, to the annoyance of many passengers, started going express. Score.

After 14th St. things turned hairy and the car rapidly filled up, and changed back to local. Announcements were made that there were five, yes, five, 1 trains behind this one. Of course, this didn’t stop anyone from cramming into every inch of this car anyway. It was at this point that I noticed this former severe crush (this was the Oregonian drunkard ex of a woman who lived in the Williamsburg apt. I stayed at for most of June ’98. She had a new boyfriend, he had a new girlfriend. Um, I stayed the night at his place once, and  sure, enough transpired to be considered affair material if you were in a relationship, though despite what everyone thought there was no sex. Regardless, I pissed off people and the guy stopped emailing me abruptly. I still have his certain to be long dead insurance company temp job e-mail address saved in my Hotmail account) sitting across from me and two people to my right, kitty corner.

I barely spied him between the tightly packed torsos filling the few feet between us. Had he seen me? For all I know he’s seen me countless times before. I always naively assume that I’m alert and wouldn’t be spotted without seeing the other person too. I was surprised that he’s still in NYC especially since he wasn’t one of those people who came here for a job or a dream like most of the post-college transplants do. I’m surprised I’m still here too. Most the people associated with him that I only vaguely knew moved back to wherever they came from in the early ‘00s. I panicked and became irrationally engrossed in the Texas issue of Saveur. But why shouldn’t he see me? I wasn’t looking half-bad, so I then tried to catch his eye to no avail. There were just too many people between us and I kept chickening out and looking down. I have no idea if he had any awareness of my presence at all. He got up too quickly and departed at Times Square. Who willingly gets out at 42nd Street?

The heartening thing was that he looked pretty much the same as the last time I saw him, a point I only make because 11 years can change a person. (The guy that a good friend was dating during this same '98 era, who is now the coffee whiz at Abraço, certainly didn't have a silvery moptop and beard back in the day.)  I’m not sure if I look markedly different than in my mid-20s; obviously a little older but I certainly don’t think I look worse. Upon first realizing who was sitting so close to me I did feel a woozy rush of adrenaline, not so much that I was feeling an attraction at that moment, just memories of one. Now, he seems kind of average, non-descript in black Levi’s and a t-shirt that said Half and Half in a cartoony log font (I’m not sure what this meant, there was a line drawing below the words but I couldn’t make it out without staring). Maybe we all just fade and blur into average and non-descript eventually.

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