I get on my train and choose car No. 6 because its doors open very close to the descending stairs of my home station.
My have-tos are done with; I’m glad I’m on my way home.
I’m lucky to get a seat and I catch up on texts. I text to see what her ETA is. Whoa, she replies immediately, a rare occurrence. I must have misunderstood her work end time. We make plans to eat together. I try to imagine which direction she’s coming from as her work is in a ‘hood I’ve only visited once and that was for a midnight-thirty meet-up with friends for a road trip. Occasionally I look up to check out my surroundings; no unusual suspects tonight, a welcome relief. Women unleashing super-pungent hair spray bombs, men coming down from drugs as evidenced by scratch-slapping their faces in a pretty disturbing manner, guys peeing themselves and of course the ubiquitous drunken businessmen (please don’t puke on me, please don’t puke on me) are just a few run-ins that make me hyper-aware of the state of the people surrounding me. It’s self-preservation on these endless lines of commuter transport, millions and millions of us standing, rushing, crowding, pushing everyday.
I continue texting her as I’m trying to gauge how long until we meet. She’s just transferred lines and I get a nanoo-nanoo psychic-intuition tingle. She just boarded at the station my train arrived at. We’re on the same train. It doesn’t make statistical sense that we would be on the same train, coming from opposite directions (including a transfer), in this megalopolis. I mean, what are the odds? Still, as seconds pass my heart beats faster. I’m absolutely convinced we’re on the same train. I quiz her about the next station on her ride…which matches mine exactly. Shit, can we be in the same car? Nooo…that would be too much for even my not-believing-in-coincidences self.
Still, I look around.
I don’t see her.
I convince myself that we’re supposed to run into each other and be amazed at the odds of running into each other on this train, this Tokyo evening. Like something out of a movie. And we’re supposed to spot each other in the same car—No. 6— out of the twelve on this line. We’re supposed to beat the odds even more. Even though I don’t see her and I don’t know why I need her to be in the same car as me, I question her further.
Which car number are you on?
6, right by the doors.
Shit(!)…I knew it.
My seated self looks up and peeks through the few empty spaces between the many standing bodies before me. I can only see one set of the eight car doors and she’s not there. Until a guy shifts and I see the top her head. Yes.
I see you.
She looks around; the surrounding figures keep me hidden.
No way. You’re messing with me.
As I’m about to text what she’s wearing, doing, we arrive at the next stop and people move past me. She keeps looking around until her eyes rest on me and a shocked smile breaks out.
“Do you realize how crazy it is that we’re on the same train, the same car, no less?!”
“It’s not crazy…after Takadanobaba (fated station name) I just knew we were on the same train.”
“It is crazy. Things like this don’t happen.”
“But it just did!”
“I mean, think about the odds.”
She doesn’t say anything else as she shakes her head, still flabbergasted at this coincidence.
Except I don’t believe in coincidences.
It’s supposed to be this way.
I don’t know why.
Maybe it’s to remember that person, exactly as they were that day.
Maybe it’s to believe in the magic of the universe.
Like out of a movie.