The subway line

Maybe everything would be different had I acted on my impulse. Maybe I wouldn’t be sitting in this little office room in our yellow house, for example.

Maybe I’d have another job, maybe I would wear a suit every day, and not just on days when I want to pretend to be a guy who wears suits to work, like today. Maybe I wouldn’t have seen the Life of Brian, and maybe I still couldn’t tell the Spice Girls apart.

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that.

Maybe I’d wear my hair short – maybe! – or maybe I’d still be walking around speaking English to everyone, and then be annoyed when they speak English back to me whenever I do try to speak Swedish. Maybe I’d never taken a painting class, or weekend guitar lessons.

I probably wouldn’t have gone on a three-week road trip across America, and would never have seen that lady in Oregon with the cotton in her ears. I wouldn’t have seen Tromsø and wouldn’t have taken a bike ride across town to watch the World Cup. I wouldn’t have seen the starriest night I’ver ever seen, in Mexico, and I wouldn’t have lost a Radford University hat in the Gulf of Mexico.

I also would never have gotten that hat.

Had I delivered that line on a Stockholm subway line 16 years ago, maybe I wouldn’t go to get ice cream every Friday with Son and Daughter.

Picture the Stockholm subway. Picture me sitting in one of those old cars, not the new ones with the blue seats. The old ones, brown seats. Now picture me sitting by the window and then across from me, a young lady reading a book. Back when people read books or the newspapers that were handed out for free at the entrances.

Now watch me put my book back inside a brown leather suitcase. That’s my grandfather’s old suitcase, the one that Son now carries with him. And now picture the girl closing her book, too.

I could tell she was studying throughout her subway journey, but I couldn’t tell what exactly she was reading. Until by the Old Town station. Now I see the book title, and I smile. I smile because I came up with a line that belongs in a movie, but even in a movie it probably wouldn’t work. “Naw, it doesn’t feel real,” you’d say if you heard it.

I knew it, so I never said it, and instead, just got up and walked to the office where I’d a few weeks later meet a certain young Swedish lady that went on to bring me to this office in this house, a lady who does know Life of Brian, the entire movie, by heart.

The line was: “There seems to be a lot of chemistry between us”. The book the girl on the train was reading was a thick chemistry book.

It was just that, a book. (But the line, unused, still great).

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