I was visiting my parents' house in suburban New York, and in true parental fashion my mother dropped me off at the local train station about 15 minutes early. One would think that after performing the same drive every day for years when my father was commuting to Manhattan, they'd have a sense of timing about this trip. One would be wrong.
While waiting idly on the cold platform, I spotted an old high-school classmate of mine. Though it may be the face that coaxes one into recognition, I find it's always the body language of another person that keeps one there. Apparently people slouch the way they slouch forever. And by the way he was standing, I knew that this was not only someone I knew in high school, but someone with whom I had been very good friends. We passed notes, ate lunch together, attended parties together, had each other's phone numbers on speed dial...
We lost touch during university, after pathetically nursing the relationship with missed calls and e-mails. I would like to say that my complete ignoring of him on that train platform was a debate. Alas, it wasn't. I took one look at this person with whom I hadn't spoken in 12 years, realised he had not spotted me back, and meandered down the platform. But why? In life's big sea of acquaintances, this man was what you might call a big fish. It's not as if we may or may not have played Spin the Bottle once. I really knew him.
I believe what it comes down to is a mild misanthropy, a passively mean compartmentalisation of my life. As we took our seats on separate train cars, I kept thinking that perhaps if I was in a better mood, if maybe the moon was tilted just a few degrees to the left... It's the emotional equivalent of buying a dress one size too small as a weight-loss motivator. You're either ready to fit into it now, or you're not.
It's not that I had anything against this person, but perhaps it's just that so much of life is out of our control that when presented with an option to avoid surprise interaction, we take it. Who knows? Maybe he didn't want to see me either.
Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello Books)Reuse content