Gotta write this down before the experience escapes me.
Ever meet someone you just want to listen to forever?
Sat on the train this morning, riding to school, studying for my macroeconomics exam. I had my headphones in, with the music set just loud enough to make the background noise almost inaudible, yet not dominating so much as to distract me from foreign exchange rates.
A man sits next to me, talking on his phone. I assume he’s talking on his phone, anyway, although his phone is in his hand, in his lap. Maybe he had a bluetooth, but I was studying and not paying attention.
I felt the vibrations of his voice for a few minutes. I noticed that he smelled very clean and slightly fruity (I’m very smell-sensitive, so this is a big deal…the fact that he smelled good gives major points to this story).
Then I realized he was talking to me.
Casual comments about the weather. Then about Burt’s Bees chapstick and how it’s an excellent moisturizer, and even a treatment tool, as it had healed a wound he had gotten in his leg, from shrapnel.
And thus began the story about his life in the wars. I didn’t need to do anything at all, or say anything. I had a tough time deciding if he was crazy or not, as he rubbed Burt’s Bees on his cracked fingers, telling me that he was “dating” himself by telling me he was in both World Wars. [That would mean he’s at least 116, to have been in WWI. The man didn’t have a single wrinkle, by the way. As for WWII, he’s have to be at least 91. Again. No wrinkles. This aside was just in case you were thinking he could have been in both WWI and WWII.] But he talked about Afghanistan, and the way people were treated, about how lucky I am to be a woman in the United States because women there are treated awfully in every way. “I’m a gentleman, so I won’t say what happens there, but I’m sure you get the picture.”
His skin is olive and smooth, shaved this morning most likely. I think he’s in his early 40’s. His hair is in a military cut, black with a few grey streaks. Or grey with a few black streaks. Dressed nicely, midnight blue peacoat, scarf, clean face. His hands are scarred, one arm half the size of the other, and he limps. His eyes are clear, and a wonderful honey-brown (hard not to stare), yet his pupils were completely contracted, both in the sun [obviously], but also in long stretches of shade. The entire time.
As I get up to leave the train, he smiles at me, makes room for me to pass, and says, “Take care, darlin’. Appreciate being a U.S. citizen.”
I smile at him. “You, too.”
A professor-looking man grins at me on the platform, and comments in an English accent, “That was quite the monologue back there!” I smile and nod.
But…I want to go back on the train and listen to his stories. He needs someone to listen. I want to listen. Now my heart is sad. I wish I’d gotten his photo.
God bless him, wherever he is.