I came back on the train today. The earlier train had been cancelled so it was ridiculously overcrowded. I was wedged into the back of a carriage, tucked into the luggage rack and almost pushed out of sight. Three guesses who was there with me. Aden.
I saw him on the platform first and tried to avoid his eye, but he came straight over, of course. He had a surfboard tucked under his arms and wet hair that gave him away. His face played host to a big smile as he came over.
'Hi,' he said, a little breathlessly.
'Hi,' I replied feeling sheepish. 'About the other day-'
'Don't worry about it.' He interrupted before I could apologise. 'You were right, I was sticking my nose into your business. I just wanted to help. I didn't mean to offend you, honestly.'
'It's fine.' I shrugged. 'I'm sorry too'. And then, because I didn't know what to say and because he was looking at me like I was somehow interesting, I asked him how his surf was.
'Incredible!' He exclaimed, almost stumbling over his words in his excitement. 'God, it was mind blowing. One of the best days I've had in a long time. At least overhead, with a really long period so a really easy paddle out.'
I found myself getting captured by his enthusiasm, so when the train pulled in, instead of ducking and covering and running for the furthest carriage, I found myself walking alongside him and following him to the luggage rack. Our boards propped up together behind us, and more people squished in front of us, and suddenly we were closer than I expected.
It was one of those moments where you have complete clarity. I heard somewhere that 'most of our life is a series of images, they pass us by like towns on the highway. But sometimes a moment stuns us as it happens. And we know that this instant is more than a fleeting image. We know that this moment, every part of it, will live on forever.' I took in everything about him in that moment. The way his blonde hair curled at the nape of his neck. The three freckles on his forehead, the slight chip in his front tooth, the way his eyes were green towards the edges but a piercing blue in the middle. God, he was beautiful! The way his hands suggested he was uncomfortable being so close to me, to anyone, but the way he looked at me….
And then the moment was gone. It was almost as though I had been looking from the outside of myself and a sudden wrench as the train left the station and I was back and not a second had passed.
I smiled at him as a cover, and threw myself straight back into a conversation about surfing.
I didn't understand that moment, I didn't know if he had experienced it too. All I knew is that I had to talk to him and try and work it out. But we had a two hour train journey ahead of us to do that….
And somehow, I found myself getting as excited as he was about things, laughing about things that didn't matter, things that weren't funny. I found myself getting wrapped up in him and his tales and his bluntness and his openness. He never once mentioned me being sick, and for the first time in months, I didn't think about it once for 2 whole hours.