For some strange reason I remembered something from high school which I had completely forgotten about for many years. It was my sophomore year of high school and I was attending Fordham Prep in the Bronx. At the time my Mother and I still lived in Westchester, north of the city (we moved into Manhattan sometime during my Junior year) and took the Metro North commuter railroad to and from school each day.
Every day I’d wait at the Fordham station for the Harlem line train which would take me to Fleetwood. Sometimes I hung out with friends. Sometimes I was alone. It really depended on whether or not I’d been to rehearsal for some or other musical I was in at the time. But more often than not, she would be there.
She was a red haired girl who attended one of the girl’s Catholic schools in the area. Maybe Mt. St. Ursula. Maybe one of the others. I think it was one of the others since she wore a different uniform than the Ursula girls wore. Either way, she was often there when I was, waiting for the same train to take her somewhere more north than where I lived.
Something about her caught my attention. Maybe it was the red hair or the oddly compelling eyes. Maybe it was the fact that she seemed to always be alone. Maybe it was the fact that she seemed to be looking at me. I don’t think I’ll ever really know. But over time I found myself drawn to her. If I was with friends, I’d do the usual show-off things. I’d sing (if I was with other people from the show) or I’d just be loud trying to be funny. If I was alone, I just would keep looking over at her and quickly looking away when she finally looked my way.
In my sophomore year, I was still pretty shy. By my Senior year I’d grown much more sure of myself. When I met Maureen, I had no trouble calling her up and asking her out on a date. (OK, OK, so I told my friend Ellen to tell her that I was interested and it was only after Maureen told Ellen that she was interested too and that I should call her that I actually did, but given how awkward I was two years earlier, that was quite a step forward for me!) To give you an idea how bad I was, I met a girl at a birthday party in August after my sophomore year ended. We danced together (to this day I have no idea how that came about because I can’t believe for a moment that I actually had the nerve to ask a girl to dance with me back at that age) and after the party ended I went up to her and asked her for her phone number. That act was the single most momentous thing I did that summer. It took a level of courage previously unknown in me. And it was also a no-brainer as it was incredibly obvious that she was interested in me.
So, you get the idea: me very shy.
Well, one day something in me snapped. We were on the train and she was sitting a few rows in front of me. One stop before my stop I suddenly lurched to my feet (and “lurched” is a very appropriate word here) and walked up to her. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Um hi. My name is Andy. What’s yours?
Her: Cindy [I think I am remembering that right]
Me: I don’t know if you’ve noticed by I’ve noticed, been interested in you for some time.
Me: So… uh… I just thought I’d say hi and… [trails off]
I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. She may have told me that she had a boyfriend or she may have said nothing and I lurched off the train at my stop a moment later and hoped that I had become invisible.
I have no memories of her after that time. I’m sure I saw her again and may have even nodded hello but I just don’t remember.
This little vignette came to me today when I was riding the metro from Clarendon, where I work, to West Falls Church where I pick up the bus to the Herndon-Monroe park and ride where Ann meets me with Jack. I was riding the train in a pack of people so tight that I couldn’t read my book and just people watching when it came back to me. Strange how the mind works.