I Keep Falling in Love With Strangers on the Subway

Discussion in 'Dating and Relationships' started by Infinite_loop, Apr 2, 2019.

  1. Infinite_loop

    Infinite_loop Is this thing on?
    Bae Material The 1000 Daps Club

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    It’s easier to risk getting burned when you know they’ll leave from the start

    (some [racially ambiguous?] woman wrote an essay I've always wanted to write about black men in the New York subway but never had the courage to. Enjoy!)

    ------------------------
    I Keep Falling in Love With Strangers on the Subway

    I have a habit no one knows about (except, of course, the people who are now reading about it on the world wide web). I have a tendency to fall in love with strangers on buses, trains, and trolleys. Sometimes it happens at the station when I’m waiting for the next train to pull up. Other times, it happens during my commute. On other days, it happens as I brush past a passenger who’s boarding a train as I exit. For a brief moment, our eyes will connect, and sometimes our souls, and I imagine a lifetime together. This dream of what could be disintegrates as soon as one or both of us arrives at our stop. But for that one single moment, I feel less lonely, more hopeful, and safe in the knowledge that it never really could be.

    I spent my teenage and early adult years as a magnet for trouble. I met my first boyfriend in a psychiatric hospital as a teenager. I tried to act like it was a normal, healthy place to meet a normal, healthy person, but the rocky relationship did a poor job of backing that up. I met my second boyfriend at church. After a week, he decided that if I wouldn’t commit to marrying him right then, he needed to explicitly threaten to abuse me. I filed a PFA (Protection From Abuse order), and I left town when they wouldn’t renew the order because he hadn’t made any new threats.

    I met my third boyfriend online. By the time my vision focused and I saw how flaming red the flags were, my self-esteem was ravaged. I was a shell of who I’d been before. I was afraid to seek help because he had already begun the work of painting me as a crazy, unreliable narrator of my own story. When the chance to leave and start fresh somewhere new popped up, I jumped at it.


    Despite having been in three relationships, I’ve never been in love. I have this theory that I’m bad at picking men as partners because liking men in a romantic sense doesn’t come naturally to me. In my home and my town, gay people were “those people.” When they were outside of our home, we “respected them” (despite believing they were depraved, immoral, evil, and in desperate need of changing themselves).

    But inside the home? Well, that was a different story that was erased before it even had a chance to be written. No outright threats were ever made but there was certainly talk of what would be done if someone in the family came out. That talk sent the message loud and clear: Coming out would not be tolerated. So I told myself that the closet was not claustrophobic, just cozy, and I settled into it while trying my hardest to live the straight life I was expected to lead.

    Falling in love on the subway is much safer than falling in love somewhere that stands still.
    I failed miserably, but from a distance. I liked a girl with blue hair, an adorable kind of awkwardness, and a beautiful brain, but I never told her. I spent late nights wondering if I should risk revealing my true feelings or keep them secret, and I always ended with a decision in favor of the latter. When I checked out the checkout girl at the grocery store, I didn’t wonder about whether her extended eye contact and high-key compliments could lead to something more. Instead, I grabbed my bags in a rush and moved on.

    When I moved to a new city, I saw LGBTQ+ people out in the open, unashamed of who they were, unafraid of what it might mean for them to be unapologetically themselves. Their boldness inspired me to come out of hiding, but the internalized homophobia that colored my worldview for so many years wasn’t dead yet. Neither was my more-than-slightly irrational paranoia that someone might find out I wasn’t straight and persecute me for it. Learning to embrace myself without guilt is a slow, steady process. I’m not there yet but one day, I will be.


    Over the years, I got used to falling for people I believed I couldn’t have. And along the way, I started catching feelings for the most transient strangers in my life: passengers on the subway. All we had was a few minutes — an hour, tops — and then we would part ways. In that brief chunk of time, I imagined what it would be like if their eye contact gave way to longer eye contact, which would give way to pleasantries, then deep conversations, then the baring of our true selves, and then maybe something that could last a small eternity.

    Falling in love on the subway is much safer than falling in love somewhere that stands still. People on the subway are supposed to leave (that’s the way it works!), so you can’t be disappointed or heartbroken when they inevitably do. On the subway, familiar faces are hard to come by. And yet, in the random gaggle of ingenues, there’s a certain community. When the person next to you sways, you sway with them. When they reach over your shoulder to pull the bell and request their stop, it doesn’t feel like an invasion of personal space. Everyone’s colognes, perfumes, laughter, worries, and awkward moments blend together into a symphonic bite. And every ride is different, electric in its own way. Sometimes the rides are chaotic, and sometimes they’re comforting and calm. You relish the ride while it lasts, then wash the aftertaste down with the rest of your day. Each trip is memorable enough to leave an impression on the heart but never memorable enough to miss once it’s over.

    When I allow myself to feel whatever it is I feel toward a random passerby, I become more comfortable and in tune with my own emotions. I never thought I was out of touch with my feelings, but now that I’m finally allowing myself to experience everything inside without judging it as good or bad, I realize that I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling what others expect me to feel.

    In the sanctuary of my mind, I’m learning to accept myself. It might seem like an odd or unconventional way of going about this process, but it works for me. One day, I might actually reach out and take a chance. I might offer a “hi” and ask for a number from a girl just passing through. Maybe we will meet again, or maybe we won’t. But either way, the journey to living out my truth will be worth it. It would be nice to have someone else along for the ride.


     
    SB3, Lavas, Gxvision and 1 other person dapped this.
  2. Gxvision

    Gxvision Lurker

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    Love this. Thanks for sharing.
     
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