This post was originally published on January 26, 2009. It has been haunting me for the last couple of days; it speaks to love lost, to a love of the past, and to what happens when you see someone you once loved in an unexpected place.
The Moment of Recognition
I got off the BART train this evening hungry, fumbling for my ticket to let me through the turn style, deep in thought. I happened to pause for a second, and glance up, looking back in the window of the train. And there, still seated on the train, head down in a business document was someone I once knew very well. This was the person who I’d lived with, who first told me of the events of September 11th as I stood in my pajamas in complete disbelief, someone who I had known better than anyone in this world. He is the only person in this life with whom I have shared the words “I do,” albeit it long ago on a warm summer afternoon in Berkeley. We had exchanged sacred vows in front of family and friends and God. And yet there he was, sitting quietly, reading.
There was a certain amount of joy in recognizing this face, and so I ran to the window and tapped it with my left knuckle. As he looked up, I saw that he was tired, worn out from the day, and now wearing a full beard. He looked so different, and yet so very much the same as the person I’d been so in love with. And as his eyes recognized me, after looking half startled, he smiled. I waived happily, quickly, and said “hi,” even though I knew he could not hear me. We held each other’s glance, and then I walked on, towards the stairs.
As the train pulled away, he looked up again, found me still on the platform, and waved. A friendly, loving wave. And then looked back down to continue reading as the train headed south out of the station.
It was an unusual moment, being met with someone I’d once known so well and had not seen in many months. And now, with time, and distance, emotions and differences, and a train window, we were as far apart as any two strangers could be. Yet, for that one brief moment, there was the joy of recognizing someone who had been as dear and close to my heart as anyone in this world.