What could be better than a watered-down coffee on a Monday morning? Each week, I hastily board a cramped and dimly lit train on the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), where the scent can only be described as a concoction of “commuter musk” and sleep deprivation.
Amidst this very authentic Toronto setting, I suddenly sense a change in the air. I look up and see him as my headphones blast You Belong with Me by Taylor Swift, the anthem of unspoken yearnings.
As I catch a glimpse of myself on a metal pole as he looks to find a seat, I realize the burden in my eyes. My under-eye bags have been symbolizing the weight of my struggling love life. The subway rocks back and forth, synchronizing with my ups and downs. He, however, moves with the synchrony of a ballet dancer and his under-eyes scream couture. You know what they say, opposites attract.
While I drink my lukewarm coffee, I watch as he drinks from a steaming cup—a coffee connoisseur navigating a sea of instant coffee peasants. He looks like the guy who would go to Balzac's for a coffee instead of Tim Hortons, or the guy who would buy a subscription to The New Yorker, not just because of the aesthetic and the free tote bag but the actual stories inside it.
He just isn’t like other guys. Not to me.
Gosh— he has a hint of the dark side like Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars, he’s built like Superman from Man of Steel and there’s something mysterious about him like Neo from The Matrix, all at once. Is this the universe's way of telling me that he is The Chosen One? Maybe he is the one for whom I will settle for paper rings. He has the most beautiful brown eyes and curly hair. Did I mention that he’s built like Superman?
As the subway stops, like my breathing did when I first saw him, we make eye contact. My eyes light up like stars as the commotion of people entering and exiting leaves the seat next to him open. Suddenly, I find myself walking toward him as if my feet have a mind of their own. My world starts spinning as I cannot breathe—he is already rocking my world. The lack of oxygen clouds my judgment, but who needs oxygen when love is in the air?
The subway has left “Are you the one?’ station and is reaching “Butterflies in my stomach” station—the doors to my heart will open on the left. I push past people to get to him—like in any love story, people stand in our way. It’s almost like a fever dream as the imaginary narrator describes my future.
"The same hand that caresses his coffee is the same hand that will one day place a diamond ring on your finger," the narrator whispers soft hopes in my ear. I wonder what our first conversation would be like so we can share them with our kids and our grandchildren. Wait, I'm jumping ahead. Let's revisit this on our fifth anniversary.
I can just imagine our future kids running around the porch while chasing our family's German Shepherd. His hand rests on my shoulder as we watch our kids make our house into a home.
Some may say I am going too fast. But who cares about the speed of the love train? Hold on—did the subway pick up pace? Maybe my life is out of balance like this train, snapping me back to reality. Suddenly I’m tripping, falling forward and my barely-iced coffee has spilled all over his suit. His handsome and exceptionally fitted suit.
He jumps out of his seat frantically, stomping his feet and cursing sweet melancholy. Of course, he could never raise his voice at his future wife. He pushes me aside with such gentleness and care.
The chatter of people is just background noise as he says his first words to me, "What the hell is wrong with you?" He is so close to me that I can smell the hazelnut coffee on his breath. Coffee breath has never smelled so good. Rage burns in his eyes as he finally shoves past me and disappears.
I can’t believe it. How could I have been so blind? This is not a romantic comedy. Life is not a movie and I blame all the rom-coms I have been watching for making me believe that love exists. Unless…this is his way of initiating our enemies-to-lovers trope. Why else would he have made eye contact with me in the first place?