The subway can offer up small mysteries, especially if I’m sitting next to people conversing loud enough for me to hear and they happen to reveal the hints of an interesting history.
Coming home tonight on an A train, I sat next to a woman who appeared to have just arrived in the city to visit a man of similar age. They were talking. He stood most of the way uptown, standing over her rolling suitcase. He was dressed in casual business attire (which he referred to at one point as a “monkey suit”); she had dyed red hair, a punk-plaid skirt and black knee-length boots.
The man remarked on how she’d finally get to see where he lives. She talked about her child, who – from what I could gather – is somewhere between 8 and 12, based on things she said about him seeing or not seeing PG-13 movies. She owns a car and lives in a townhouse or duplex somewhere not in the NYC metro area – perhaps somewhere in Minnesota, as it said on her luggage tag. I couldn’t tell whether the father of the woman’s son was in the picture, but I gradually realized that the man and the woman on the train must’ve known each other as teenagers, because they kept alluding to the secret things they did together as kids.
And then, somewhat to my surprise, they leaned in and kissed. The PDA floodgates opened. They started acting like long-lost lovers, kissing long and intensely after the man finally got a seat next to the woman. At 175th St., they got up, leaving me to silently ponder their situation. Who was the father of this woman’s child? Who was taking care of the kid? When was the last time these two had seen each other? Had they dated as kids, then grown apart, and now were rekindling their relationship? Was this a secret visit?