The first time I saw her, it was only for a moment, and in passing. It was on the street in downtown, towards the end of the work day. Hundreds of people in passing, hundreds of glances into the cold downward stares of strangers, all focused on their own lives and their own problems. Everyone in the dark, neutral colors of winter, bundled up to insulate against the cold. Headphones in to insulate against the conversation of strangers. Just for a second we made eye contact, her dark blue eyes carried the hint of sadness. My lighter blues the promise of mischief. Her bright red winter hat stood out amongst our dreary day.
The second time I saw her, she was in the park, still with her red knit winter hat. Walking a dog, an old lab mutt who seemed to be enjoying the fresh air a lot more than she did. Impatient or bored, she implored her mutt to hurry, so that they might retreat into her downtown loft, with its central heat, and prime time television, and dinner for one. I was in the park, imploring a mutt of my own to do the same. It was cold and clear that night, and though my apartment would prove to be lonelier than the street, it was still the acceptable attitude to carry. The conventional move to make. In my apartment, looking down at the lights of the city, at the bums and the hustlers, I feel lonelier than normal. And yet that’s where I end up every night.
The third time I saw her she smiled. It was so unexpected that I shyly looked away. It was on the train over the river, and I was lost in my own thoughts. I looked up, and there she was. Shoulder length dark hair spilling out from her red hat, dark blue eyes not as sad today, but studying me curiously. Stylish business casual with her requisite shoulder bag; she was a trendy product of our environment. It probably dawned on us both that I was staring, studying her, when she smiled. Quick and friendly, an invitation to say something, to say anything; I was stunned. And I quickly looked away. At the next stop she got off.
The fourth time I saw her, I didn’t even see her, until she was right in my face with a, “hello, I’m Katie.” I looked down at her, and her pixie smile, challenging, teasing. The promise of adventure. Bold. Daring. New. A half-step from her comfort zone. Her dark blues somehow lighter now, glowing, beautiful.
“Hi Katie, I’m Sean.”