Craigslist Reply to Missed Connection

Reply to Best of Craigslist Missed Connection 

I didn’t know what I was getting into on that fateful day that I stepped on the train at DeKalb. I was on my way to meet a friend for dinner in Queens, but as our eyes met briefly, I knew I’d never make it.

I sat across from you. Hoping you’d come sit by me, but you didn’t. We looked at each other several times. I smiled, but when you didn’t smile back, I looked away.

Once, I caught you staring off in thought, and I wondered if you were thinking about what you’d say to me. I fantasized about running my fingers through your slightly disheveled hair, but when you looked up, I turned away, embarrassed at being caught staring.

I held up the cover of my book hoping that you’d read the title and comment on it, but you didn’t. I sat there, staring at the pages hoping you’d say something, but still, you said nothing.

I decided I’d stay on the train until we reached your stop. Maybe then you’d invite me for a drink or ask for my number, but when we reached the end of the line, you stayed on and still said nothing. Not wanting to look foolish, I held up my book again, as if to indicate that it was the reason I’d missed my stop.

So we both stayed on. You and me. And as the train passed through Astoria, over the East River, through SoHo and down to Coney Island, the pages in the book about Lyndon Johnson, began to tell a new story.

The letters on the page rearranged themselves to tell the story of us—a young couple who met on the Deklab stop on the Q train. It was an instant connection. In one simple locking of the eyes we had exchanged a lifetime of words and knew we were destined to share a lifetime of experiences.

You never made it home that night, and I never met my friend for dinner. Instead, we sat on the train talking and laughing in a way that only soul mates do. When we reached the end of the line, you invited me to dinner. That was the end of life as we knew it. For the next sixty years, we were inseparable.

We dated for a year before getting married. We started a family—two rambunctious boys and one clever girl. We moved into a small house in Astoria, insisting on living near the Q train—a daily reminder of the happenstance that brought us together.

Once, I looked up from my book and realized I was still sitting on the train. You were sitting across from me in those same maroon pants and that blue-stripped t-shirt. We locked eyes, but still said nothing.

I glanced at the newspaper next to me. It was dated twenty years later. Twenty years had passed and still you had said nothing. A tear slid down my face, and I returned to the story of what could’ve been.

We watched our children grow. When they started their own families, we traveled the globe. We walked along China’s Great Wall, hiked the Kenyan mountains, slid down the Alaskan glaciers, and explored the pyramids of Egypt. You had become an author, and I had become a journalist, each of us finding inspiration in our travels with each other.

Then the time came when we had to come home. Our bodies creaked and shook with the sigh of old bones. Slowly, we climbed on the Q train for our final ride, sitting across from each other the way we had on that faithful day that our lives changed. Our eyes once again locked, exchanging a lifetime of conversations followed by our final good-byes as our bodies slowly faded away into a memory. Our story had ended.

I looked up as I closed the book of our life and saw that both of us were still sitting on the train. Sixty years later, a quiet lifetime had passed between two permanent fixtures on a train who spoke only with their eyes. And just as our lives had ended in the book, so had our time on the train.

Slowly, I stood up. My my muscles struggled to awaken after a lifetime of sitting. I stepped off the train at Queensboro Plaza, whispering a final goodbye with my eyes and hoping you’d follow. But you didn’t.



Conshy Connections at Tradestone Confections

It’s funny how life works out. How we just happen to make connections at just the right time and how these connections weave in and out of our lives disappearing when we no longer need them and randomly appearing and sometimes reappearing, as if by coincidence, at the most critical moments in time.

These moments, for me, seem to happen most during major life changes. It happened when I moved to New York, and it’s happening again, here in Conshy, where about a month ago, I found myself unexpectedly unemployed. My life plan had shattered. I was lost, with no compass to lead the way. The only thing I was certain about was that I needed time to nurture my emotional and spiritual health. Little did I know, that self-healing practices would set my life in motion.

I began taking yoga classes at the newly opened Yoga Home at 424 E.Elm street. At first, I was skeptical about attending these classes. I’ve never been a big fan of yoga. The classes I’d taken in Utah and New York had been fast-paced and focused on the physical attributes of the practice, which, let’s face it, only served to alienate a physically inflexible and competitive person like myself. Despite my apprehension, I decided to give this studio and the practice a try after an acquaintance mentioned how yoga had helped her through her divorce. I’m glad I listened.

The studio offers a variety of restorative and slow flow classes that are in line with my “go with the flow, ease into life, and fall into deep thought” mentality, but my favorite part of the classes has been the readings–particularly the ones about the roommate that lives in our head and how we can quiet him/her by being a good friend to ourselves.

I think that’s the biggest thing I learned in the past four weeks. I have never been the friend to myself that I have been to others. While I make it a point to constantly tell my friends about their strengths and attributes, I consistently focus on my personal flaws so much so that I’ve managed to convince myself that even my strengths are nothing more than weaknesses in disguise. Sounds ridiculous right? But it’s true. My self doubt has allowed the negative words of others to settle in the deepest crevices of my mind, and I am only now in the process of kicking them out.

I now understand how solitary confinement can be the worst form of torture. Despite attending yoga classes and playing soccer three days a week, I have been feeling isolated. Acquaintances are not the same as friends and phone calls do not replace the feeling that comes from physically sharing a moment in time with someone you care about. The lack of human interaction makes me  feel sad and lonely, and I escape these feelings with regular trips to New York, where I surround myself with friends and family for  a couple of days. The problem with this strategy is that when I come home, I crash into a sea of loneliness that is almost unbearable.

Enter Tradestone Confections. The day after I first learned about the “roommate” in my head I woke up and thought, “No. You do not get to drive my actions today. I refuse to feel lonely. I refuse to believe I’m not good enough. I refuse to give into self-doubt.” So, I got up, got dressed, and walked to the only coffee shop in town that reminded me of New York–Tradestone Confections — a small cafe that’s quickly becoming my muse. That is where I met Angelo.

I’d been sitting at the window for a couple of hours, diligently working on my job search when a sudden sense of hopelessness started to seep inside my head. At just that moment, I heard a voice say, “Hey, you must be a very driven person if you’re here studying on a Friday night.” I looked up to see the barista inquisitively smiling over at me.

That was it. All it took to redirect my thoughts. Like a sad patron at a bar I started divulging my story to this barista. He patiently listened as I disclosed aloud, for the first time in my life, every single one of my worries and doubts along with my aspirations. It was a long-needed verbal cleansing, to which he responded with a wisdom beyond his years. I refused to believe that this connection was coincidence. He, in turn, shared his own story with me, which then lead to a productive brain storming meeting for both of us. I was the first new connection of many that would start appearing and reappearing during this pivotal moment of my life. Since then, Tradestone Confections has become the hub of my connections.

Every time I show up with my computer in hand, I make a new local connection, or reconnect with an old friend who connects me to someone who in turn connects me to someone else. It’s the domino affect of networking and it began with one decision, which lead to a story, which lead to a connection which has lead to more connections. This cannot be a coincidence. I believe that there is an energy thread in life that connects and guides us like a compass if we’re willing to listen to it. It wields its power, pushing people apart and back together at just the right time as we carve our bath through the journey of life.