Being single in the city can sometimes feel like the loneliest place in the world. When you are a single parent, it can seem even more isolating. Spending an afternoon in the city on a bright autumn day can put a slight chill on your back. Taking your coat on and then taking it off can make your coat feel like a weight when you are trying to rush to get on the train. I sat in a row with my thoughts as my only companion and I felt drowsy from the cuban sandwich I had devoured hours earlier at the top of Reunion Tower. Now as I headed back to my car aboard the orange line, I was almost impatient each time the train stopped to pick up the other passengers. The Dallas Cowboys game was about to start and I wanted to watch it in the comfort of my own home.
So we stopped and I glanced to see who would get on in hopes they would bypass my presence. I am so much at comfort with myself I secretly wish that nobody would notice I was there. Being single you get used to that. You take comfort in being overlooked and not having anyone’s gaze fall upon your own. When you are a female in the city, you sometimes squish up your brow to appear mean and to appear like you are somebody you don’t want to mess with. Everywhere I looked people are on their phones, frantically scrolling and texting some unknown person that should be there with them and not someplace else. I sometimes wonder what do these couples talk about when they see each other at home. They’ve been texting and messaging each other all day there is no surprise, anticipation or excitement in coming home when the other person already knows the details of what happened.
The icy blue eyes
I watched the man push a metal cart full of bags onto the train. Camouflage bags, gym bags, and nylon bags piled high in this cart as the man with the blue eyes boarded the train. He pushed the cart onto the train like a paletero (ice cream man in Spanish) peddling paletas. All he needed was a bell to get anyone’s attention. As he walked in he was followed by a shorter, older man with a huge duffel bag on his back. The older gentleman sat across the train’s aisle from me diagonally across from me. The man with the icy blue eyes folded down the chair seat right by my feet and sat right in front of me. He was wearing a baseball cap and a windbreaker. I was facing the back of the train and as the train went forward, I could see everything that passed by the window behind the train. When he sat down I looked out the window and he turned to look out the same window but faced me directly. I made sure I didn’t meet his eyes but out of my periphery I could see and feel him staring at me. Not just an acknowledgment stare but a long stare. It was one of those stares where a man is really studying not just your face but your expression and your eyes. And then he spoke to me in Spanish. “Hola. Como Estas? . . eres muy hermosa.” (Hello. How are you? You are very beautiful.” I turned to meet his greeting and then I saw how beautiful his eyes were. The iciest blue I had ever seen on a chiseled, clean cut face. I was taken aback because I believe this man is homeless and I would have never given him a second look. So I answered him back in Spanish.
Hablo espanol un poquito
Muy Bien, Gracias. Soy Hawaiiana, Hablo espanol un poquito. I basically said, I’m fine. Thanks. I’m Hawaiian. I speak only a little Spanish. By which he replied that was ok, because his friend speaks no Spanish. Then in Spanish he proceeded to tell me about how his friend was like a butterfly. Flying from place to place and never settling down. Then he introduced himself and shook my hand. In English he proceeded to tell me that he really meant what he said when he said I was beautiful. I blushed not really knowing what to say. He then asked me what I was doing on the train and where I was going. I distrusted him like I do with everyone so I said I was just riding the train. He then proceeded to tell me about the zoo and the museum. He told me about how he used to live in Houston and all the sights of Houston. I was marveling at this man. Had he not been homeless I would have been attracted to him. I know that sounds shallow but I’m a realist. I believe in the rule and not the exception and I would just not date a homeless man – for obvious reasons. He had something I rarely ever see in people – he was at peace.
The peaceful man
This was a man that wasn’t looking at his cell phone every minute. Didn’t post to social media and didn’t have a job that he was working on the weekend. This man did what so many men are afraid to do. He came right up to me, told me I was beautiful, introduced himself and started a conversation with a woman he doesn’t know. AND he did it without being arrogant, intimidating, and forceful. He did it with charisma and much of that was due to the fact the he seemed so at peace with life. I could just tell he was so calm. He proceeded to tell me about Led Zeppelin and the museums. He had a genuine interest in me enjoying myself and my life even if for a brief moment. He had a peace that I wish I had. But as soon as the conversation started, his stop came and he pushed his cart out. Then then old man that was his companion walked out after him. I waved goodbye knowing that I’d probably never see this man, but wondering about him. Then the old man came running back on the train to tell me, “I do know one language. Japanese. Sayonara!” I smiled because why not? We all smile sometimes at the small things.