I fell in love on the subway. It was in Chicago and it was bitterly cold. I was on the red line, which is more of an elevated train than a subway. A few stops after mine, a trio of teenagers boarded, loud and laughing as only teenagers can be. The first one I noticed was a dark-haired boy in a red T-shirt, only a T-shirt on a dark December evening. They stood in front of me, two boys and a girl, shifting and fidgeting with youthful energy and talking just a bit too loud.
The dark haired boy in the red shirt put his arm around the other boy in a loverly way and caressed his back, hugging his waist, jokingly I think, though the other boy did not throw him off. It was not the caresser that riveted me, but the caressed. He was not a boy, but not yet a man. His face was beautiful, with perfect high cheekbones, a strong jaw, and flawless pale skin with just the first brush of a five o'clock shadow. His eyes captured me, though they turned not in my direction. They were brown, just brown, but so expressive, so rich and captivating, turning this way and that between his two companions.
His body was trim and athletic, even beneath his quilted winter coat. It was black with a black scarf over dark blue jeans, which were blessedly neither baggy nor sagging. After a time a pair of seats opened up and he and the girl sat, the red-shirted boy standing close before them. The object of my misguided affection sprawled languidly, one foot braced on a vertical support, he head leaned back against the seat.
I did not know his age, nor his name, nor any single fact about him, but I loved him. From his sandy brown hair to his black tennis shoes, I loved him. This was the boy who less controlled women went to prison for and this emotion was what they got in trade. This was the boy that the Greeks wrote poems about and the Romans made statues of. I watched surreptitiously and tried not to stare. He was so beautiful and, unlike so many young people, seemed totally unconcerned by this fact.
Past station after station, as a hundred people came and went, I watched him and marvelled that any human being, live and in the flesh, could be so outwardly beautiful. He could have been a monster inside and I am not sure I would have cared. I could picture him, standing as the Roman statues stand, but of warm, soft, living flesh. He was young enough to be forbidden but certainly old enough to make his own decisions, be they ever so unwise and damaging. It is just that kind of young man, or woman, prone to damage and be damaged, fragile like china and yet somehow powerful.
Would I ever? I thought to myself and then smiled. No never. I shook my head slightly. Oh, but I could love him for those few minutes there on the subway. Love without entanglements, without attachment, without fear or loss or pain or heartbreak. Because I would never, even if he might have. My station came and I left the train without a backward glance and he travelled on into the night never knowing that for that short period of time and for ever after a woman loved him.
Or maybe he did know.