To the guy I found myself sitting next to on my train journey back from London,
I stood arm weighed down by my bag filled with food and stuff. Stuff like my pills and three water bottles which I had to pack just in case, and my purse I've had since I was sixteen. Five different shades of lipstick, in stain, gloss and balm form. I had a book to read, and my new diary, and a notebook, and a journal. But only one pen, right at the bottom of all that stuff.
Some hyper-active children were running about the place squealing at strangers. At about eight or nine they looked too old to be behaving that way, but we all develop at different ages, don't we? That's what I've been thinking about this past year. I have these things going on in my head for a long time, and eventually some sort of conclusion is made - influenced by just one thing someone might say that makes me think, yes, that's it - that's exactly it. But I haven't got there with this one yet. I still ponder over the fact that we all develop at different ages. And when do we finally get there? What is the final destination?
Eventually the platform was announced for our train and a herd of suitcases hurry their way behind their owners, and I followed, unbuttoning my coat along the way, sipping on the orange mocha that I regretfully bought from Starbucks. It tasted like orange peel, and too much sugar.
I used to come to London with my ex boyfriend, but London is so big that it doesn't get marked by people or memories so much. Every time you go there you make new ones, and the taste of the past still is there in the present, but it's not too strong - not too painful. We used to play this game where we would guess what platform our train would be on on the way back home, the tension building in Paddington station as passengers waited, eyes glued to the screens for the number to flash on - it was never announced until just a few minutes before departure. I remember winning once. Platform one.
But that evening I met you I was going somewhere else entirely. I was glad that I hadn't booked a table seat, at least. Inevitable eye contact and brushing legs and too many bags. I like to stare into the back of the seat and listen to whatever is going on behind me, or think about tomorrow or the weekend or talk to God or just listen to my crazy thoughts and either take them too seriously and panic or laugh. But that evening - 2nd January 2014 - I found myself reading my book. I read for the longest time. Maybe I just didn't want to talk to you. I can't even remember your name. Sorry. It really isn't anything personal.
About twenty minutes before my stop you turned to me, plucked the earphones out of your ears and put forward a hand.
"Hi, I'm bored, that's why I want to talk," you said. I know why I didn't believe you - because I'm naive and skeptical at all the wrong times. You genuinely were bored, I knew that the moment we parted ways, and you did just want to talk. But straight away I thought of ways to get out of this, knowing you would ask for my number at the end of it all, thinking of an excuse, all the way through the following.
"That's ok," I said, dog-earring the page of my book and putting it into my bag.
"What's your name?"
"Naomi." Then the look. "Nay-oh-me." Unfortunately, I had to repeat a third time. This wasn't the best start.
Soon enough I was telling you all about my Christmas and New Year, where I went to uni, how I was starting a new job on Monday, everything I had been thinking over the words I was reading in my book previously.
We had a fair amount in common. You said you lived in Scunthorpe but really you just work there. I can't remember the name of the village you said you lived in. You said you studied engineering or something, but again, my memory fails me. It's not that I don't care, but when these things happen, I forget the important information straight away. You told me your name and I forgot almost instantly because I'm too busy examining your face, wondering why on earth you thought it a good idea to get your tragus pierced (perhaps you think the same about me), figuring out your story, when really I should wait to be told.
It was easy saying goodbye. It was nice, in fact. And then when I walked away I felt a sense of relief, like I had achieved something, like I just finished an exam that I just knew I had passed. Maybe I am getting better at being an adult. Thank you for that. We were friends for twenty minutes, I am sure of it.