She had her scarf tightly wrapped around her face as she joined me under the heat lamps. It’s cold,” she said, “It’s cold.” I nodded in agreement, exaggeratedly, so that she could see my acknowledgment through my own fastened scarf. She continued speaking about little things as though I had given her more than just a nod. I reluctantly faced her in my ‘listening stance.’ She seemed pleasant but I didn’t really feel like listening.
She was probably the kind of woman who drank plain tea. A cup was made in the morning and then again in the afternoon without ceremony. In fact, most things she did seemed well natured and yet very unceremonious in their ways. But then again, she was the type of understated that made you kind of notice her in that, ‘look, she’s understated’ sort of way.
She probably had a husband who nodded in agreement too much. Not from lack of interest in what his wife was saying, but more so because he had nothing of note to say in return. They lived a quiet life and found meaning in things as little as just the other’s company.
Her children were probably grown. There were four of them, all spread around different time zones. She knew they were all wonderful people but sometimes got the sense that they demanded a little too much attention from their surroundings. She was always forced into the spotlight in the form of a grand introduction to their friends or communities whenever she visited. It made her uncomfortable, but these were her children’s lives so she endured it.
Our train pulled in with a cold wind that seemed to reinforce whatever she was saying about this year’s rampant flu. I had developed a positive disposition toward her in those last few minutes and had actually started listening to her small talk. We sat across from each other on the train and I waved goodbye as I arrived at my stop.