So absorbed was I in the article I was reading – a clipping from Saga magazine courtesy of my mother, in which several elderly ladies recount their experiences of being reunited with the children they had put up for adoption in the sixties – that I almost missed my metro stop. This is not unusual, as I have the ability to almost entirely block out my surroundings when I read – I say almost, because this doesn’t work when there are buskers equipped with microphones and amplifiers. If I turn up to work a little late, my boss invariably asks me which book should be held responsible.
I leapt up, and lunged towards the doors, only to find my escape route barred by an attractive young couple. She was arty-looking, probably beaux-arts, with silky dark hair piled atop her head, faux carelessly, and secured with a pencil. A lot like my mental picture of how Vit Webb must have looked in her art college days. He was clad in jeans and a blazer, olive skin and Roman nose barely discernible behind a floppy fringe. He reminded me of my own university boyfriend. Positioned squarely in front of the doors, they were kissing passionately, eyes firmly closed, oblivious to the commuters around them. It was nowhere near as unattractive a spectacle as this couple described in a previous post. On the contrary, it was quite aesthetically pleasing, in a Hollywood kind of way. It did nonetheless pose something of a dilemma.
How was I to reach the handle to open the double doors, which they were virtually leaning on? Should I prise love’s young dream apart? Or slide an arm around their waists to spring the door open, which could potentially result in their toppling out onto the platform, lips still locked together?
I chose to clear my throat loudly instead, cheeks flaming with an unnecessary, “oh so British” embarrassment. Such is my genetic heritage.
Remarkably, the couple did not flinch, nor interrupt their passionate embrace for even a second; they simply took a couple of admirably synchronised steps to the left, leaving the door unobstructed. One of them even pulled the door lever, so that it sprang open just as the buzzer began to sound. I scampered off, gratefully.
This little episode has left me feeling strangely wistful. I realise it has been an eternity since I gave in to the urge to kiss passionately in public, or indeed felt such an overwhelming need in the first place. I don’t remember the last time I felt locked in a private little bubble with my partner, seeing only him, caring not a jot about what passers by might think. I feel achingly nostalgic for a younger, more carefree me, who felt everything so intensely. I don’t know if this person has gone for good, is temporarily in hiding, or whether it is age, comfortable familiarity or motherhood which has driven her underground.
I have no answers to these awkward questions. I only know that sometimes I can’t help but feel as though I am missing out on something. As if I were only half-alive.