The E Train to Queens Plaza. This is my daily route. This is the route I’ve taken for over 70 years, and I sit in the same seat every day–right by the doorway. Not because I’m a nervous man and need to sit near the exit, but because this is the seat I sat in when I met my wife.
I moved to New York when I was twenty for this woman.
I had been in town on business. I was a traveling salesman, mainly pedaling kitchen ware to Midwest housewives, and there was a convention my boss insisted I attend. I reluctantly went, hesitant to leave my familiar surroundings in my quiet town for the hustle and bustle of New York, but my tune quickly changed when I got on the subway and met Anita. She was sitting next to the door, and I could not take my eyes off of her.
She had jet-black hair and crystal blue eyes that locked on yours and held their gaze until you had to look away for fear that you will never see anything as beautiful ever again.
I sat staring at her and missed my stop, but I didn’t care. I waited until she got off and I followed her, not caring where she would lead me. I was instantly smitten and knew that she would be my wife one day. She walked quickly up the stairway to street level and she continued down the sidewalk, casting nervous glances over her shoulder at me. I kept my pace and did not relent. Finally, after we had walked about five blocks, she stopped abruptly and turned to face me.
“You have a lot of nerve, pal,” she scolded me. “I saw you staring me on the train, and now you’re following me, like some sort of lunatic.”
I tried to stammer a response, but my tongue twisted into a thousand knots and I stood before her, mouth agape.
“What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?”
Finally, after stumbling over my words, I managed to mutter the only thing I was thinking: “I’m going to marry you, you know.”
She let out a deep, throaty laugh, tossing her head back and letting her hair tumble down her shoulders.
“Is that so, huh? Well, how do you suppose you’re going to manage that? From the looks of your suit, you don’t seem like the marrying type, fella.”
“That may be so, ma’ am, but I’ll do everything in my power to make you my wife, as God as my witness.” I was surprised at my courage, speaking so bluntly to a woman I had just met.
She tightened her mouth into pursed line and squinted her sapphire eyes at me. After what seemed like an hour, she stuck out her right arm for a handshake. “My name is Anita. If you’re serious about me marrying you, you had best get to work. I’m hungry and thirsty, and your luck should have it, there’s a diner on the corner. Buy me a meal and I might reconsider your offer.”
It took some persuasion and a ring that cost me a pretty penny, but eventually, Anita became my wife.
We traveled this subway train every day until she died about ten years ago. The woman had never been sick a day in her life and she died suddenly and peacefully one night in her sleep.
I miss my wife something awful. I miss looking into those eyes of hers, running my fingers through her hair, but as long as this train keeps running and as long as I’m alive to ride it, I’ll always have my Anita.