Walk about one mile to the Highland Park Gold Line station. Board the next train bound for Union Station/East LA.
Disembark from the Gold train and walk through Union Station to the Red/Purple Line platform. Board the next train.
Get off the train at 7th Street. Use the exit at Hope Street. Walk to my office in the fashion district.
Stop for coffee along the way.
This is my daily commute. About 45 minutes in total, which makes me lucky by LA standards. And of course, the journey home is the inverse, with a long uphill walk to my house.
I usually read on the train. I consume approximately two books per week, lovingly chosen at The Last Bookstore. But last Tuesday night, my eyes were dry from the unnecessary office air conditioning and my head ached from eight hours of meetings and spreadsheets. I’m sorry to say, Mr. Hemingway, but The Sun Also Rises was incapable of holding my attention. My eyes wandered around the train, reading the advertisements for personal injury attorneys with terrible design direction and a message in Spanish informing women that they were free to leave their unwanted babies at fire stations with no questions asked. I scanned my fellow passengers, wondering once again, why I never see the same people twice on my regular and regimented commute. That was when I noticed the man standing closest to the door.
He was the older version of someone I loved. Or rather (and I’m aware this is incredibly cliche), someone I was trying to forget. Someone I almost hated myself for loving because the mere idea of loving this person would seem so foolish to anyone with the slightest bit of common sense. But hell, if people weren’t feeling this way all the damn time, fifty percent of the books and albums I love wouldn’t exist.
I tried to look away, but I couldn’t. The resemblance was uncanny. The old-mannish high waisted jeans. The buffalo check jacket, brown boots, and even similar glasses. But the Steinbeck paperback in his right hand just clinched it. A wave of long-avoided heartache and its corresponding sad songs washed over me. I could feel the slightest hint of tears creeping into my eyes. For the briefest moment, I wondered if he was a ghost sent by some vindictive spirit to awaken the the emotional cyclone I had squashed into the darkest corner of my brain.
“Oh fuck no,” I told myself. ”I’m not allowed to think about any of this in my new life.” But there I was, rerunning one of the major story arcs from the last year of my life. A montage of moments both rapturous and wrenching. If I allowed myself to fall down that well, I wouldn’t escape for days. I had spent the last two months tiptoeing around the edge, promising myself all sorts of rewards if I avoided even looking in its direction. Continue reading