In twelfth grade I wrote a terrible poem about two people sitting on a bench in a train station. They were both so obsessed with their own worlds that they never noticed each other. As I recall, I was kind of cliché and wrote that they got married years later. They never knew that they had already shared this painful moment in their past. He was a loser; she was a lost over-achiever. It was a terrible poem.
But I still think about that idea all the time.
One December, someone told me about a song that had obviously been written about me. It was Joshua Radin’s “Vegetable Car.” I was clearly the girl in the song. Joshua Radin, without a doubt, drew inspiration for these lyrics from a secret visit to a small college town in rural Tennessee. I probably needed to contact him and let him know I’d give him a chance.
Instead, I listened to the song on repeat in the library as I wrote my final papers. I’m listening to it again right now, thinking about all the people in this world, all of our paths. Mostly I’m thinking about my own relationships. Seriously, I probably made eye contact with my soul-mate when I was seven, but I don’t even remember. I was sitting in the car at a rest stop in Pennsylvania because I refused to use public bathrooms. He was cleaning smashed M&Ms off his mother’s station-wagon car seats; he didn’t want his Bernese Mountain Dog named Bernie to eat them. He knew Bernie couldn’t handle chocolate.
Or maybe my soul-mate is the one who will be reading a Penguin Classic on the way to work tomorrow, the one I don’t notice because I’m wondering why that mother decided to bring her child downtown in a stroller during rush hour. And then I’ll start thinking about where I’ll raise my children, if I’ll allow them to eat sugar cereals or not, what kind of sports they’ll play. And then I’ll walk out onto the street, stare at my feet for a few steps, and, then, the moment will be over.
Gosh, I’m such a romantic.