Saturday, January 26, 2013

Morning Commute. Of Course.

He was waiting already in the shelter at the station - sitting on the little bench provided therein. The train was 10 minutes out. It was about 25 degrees out on an overcast (though breaking up) and windless winter day. A thin slime of re-frozen snow covered every surface that hadn’t been scraped clean over the last 10 hours.
He stretched out his arms and an inescapable glimpse of a worn leather cuff caught my eye at the base of the sleeve of his winter coat. He tugged at his collar, adjusted his scarf. He clapped his hands twice together and puffed into his fists as his knees busily jumbled up and down to keep the blood moving.
I sat next to him. He had gorgeous, sandy-brown skin and black hair and a piercing gaze and a warm warm smile. He smelled like coffee and figs. I said hello. He nodded. He sniffed and looked at his feet. His shoes glinted brilliantly as the sun peeked out from behind growing cracks in the clouds.  He said something absently about the cold. I agreed with him and a basic, friendly conversation about "the cold" began.  It's the same conversation anyone has when waiting in a train station in 25 degree weather. 
We talked about "the cold". We joked about how a bare inch of snow can grind this city to a halt and how the promise of more snow on the horizon will send the entire timezone into fits of panic. East Coast Hysteria.  He wistfully brought up the subject of his time in sunnier climates which he misses desperately.  I volleyed with stories about about my time in northerly climates which I missed (albeit less today) similarly desperately. 
He had an accent I couldn’t place. Not that I can place many accents of course, especially out here so close to Washington DC where EVERYONE has an accent because NOBODY is "from here".  His accent, however, his was one I hadn’t heard in a long, long time.
Silence came briefly as we both glanced at the train-display. The train was still about five more minutes out.
He introduced himself. His name was Apollo. Of course it was. 
I said so. I said “of course it is" dryly. 
Then I told him my own name. To which he replied “of course it is” echoing my previous sentiment and mocking my sudden realization that this was another one of those  moments.
Regaining myself, I said “so you’re here on business then?” 
And he nodded wordlessly and looked away, sniffing. 
“Thanks” I said. And that brought his gaze to me again. 
He said “what for?”
I tilted my face toward the sky.” For bringing out the sun today. Good work. Thanks for that.”
He chuckled at his shining shoes and shook his head. Grinning broadly, he met my gaze again. “You’re pretty funny.” He said.
Tight-lipped, I only raised both of my eyebrows in acknowledgement.
We passed the remaining few minutes of our time together in the shelter in silence. 
When the train arrived, we both stood. He gestured that I be the first out of the doorway and so I acquiesced. Before leaving, however, I extended my hand. He shook it out of instinct, but he was confused, and nodded awkwardly toward me. 
I said “Thanks again, Apollo. It was a pleasure to meet you.”
He grinned again, looked at the sky, and said “you’re welcome. I wish I could do more for the temperature, but you know…”
And I interrupted him “out of your jurisdiction?”
And he replied “yup”. He pumped the handshake a final time and added “the pleasure was all mine.”
And that was it. And that was the time I waited for my train to work in a freezing cold platform shelter with Apollo the sun god.

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