He’s dressed in an orange button down shirt and he is wearing a blazer in order to cover a coffee stain, a stain that I notice only when he pulls back the bottom left part of his jacket. He is waiting by the clock—yes that clock—the one in the train station you see in all the movies where a boy meets a girl, yes that storyline, in that big city…that storyline, in that train station, in that big city, where they fall in love.
I can tell he has noticed me awkwardly staring off into space, alone against the wall, that is placed perfectly between tracks 16 and 17. I can tell this because he is awkwardly looking at me and then away as I catch his eye.
I’ve lost my train of thought as I watch the track numbers, the train lines, and the final destinations rotate on the board—the world moves while I sit still…still and alone.
“So who are you waiting for?”
A voice interrupts my already distracted state.
I probably could have thought of something witty to say to this stranger, this stranger who is wearing an old dirtied pair of converse, but I don’t, and instead, I look up and I realize it’s the man I was exchanging awkward glances with. I pull down my headphones.
“No one,” I say.
“Oh come on, a pretty girl in Grand Central, alone, surely you are waiting for SOMEONE.”
He takes a seat next to me.
I look at him, he’s got ruffled brown hair like the main character in Almost Famous. “Well we are all waiting for someone, aren’t we? But today, I am not expecting a familiar face. Let’s be honest—Justin Timberlake is on two billboards in my subway station—he’s the only familiar face I see anymore.”
He laughs. “Honestly, though?”
“Honestly. Today, I am just looking for a lot of unfamiliar faces that are experiencing a lot of familiar feelings as me.”
“Well aren’t you just chipper,” his green eyes are glowing.
“Okay, pretty boy—who are you waiting for so patiently here in the great Grand Central?”
“Oh…so you can be here all alone…but I can’t?”
“I’m not patiently waiting—I am impatiently waiting. I got stood up.”
I think to myself…great, stood up, now he thinks I am the rebound. Couldn’t I have just been waiting for a train? Couldn’t I have just lied and said I was waiting for my boyfriend? Couldn’t I have just not looked so damn lonely. I should have smiled more while I was sitting alone. I should have had a book out. I should have just not awkwardly stared at him—and then away.
“I hope you aren’t hoping that I was stood up too so that we could play this out like a silly movie.”
“No. I was thinking sitting was a better option than standing. My feet are killing me. I really need a new pair of shoes.”
He is right…He does need a new pair of shoes. I look around, all the stair cases are empty…and some walls are bare. “You had other options…”
“Well, if we are sharing this feeling called loneliness, we might as well not be drinking it alone.”