Last Friday evening, a young and good-looking couple got on the train to Cambridge and sat in the pair of seats behind me. "This is much better than sitting by the loo," she remarked as she sat down, prompting me to look up and smile. She returned the smile impulsively and prettily. I settled back into my book, feeling that harmonious twang that a pleasant interaction with a stranger provokes.
Once she and her partner were settled in their seats, however, I soon became aware that all was not harmonious between them. In vicious undertones, they launched into an argument which had clearly been going on since well before they boarded the train. They fought cruelly, with the button-pressing knowledge and the lack of forgiveness that comes of stubborn misunderstanding between partners in a long and unhappy relationship. Occasionally they would pause. One would say, "Let's just not talk about this any more. Let's read until we arrive, okay?" "Okay," the other would agree. Two minutes of silence. Then they began again.
They fought for the entire journey. When we left the train, they were still fighting. If you had looked at them, you wouldn't have been able to tell. They walked easily beside one another, not quite touching, their faces relaxed and open.
I've started wearing my hair up recently. It's gotten so long and I'm in such desperate need of a haircut that there is no other solution. I bind it up in a ponytail and then braid it. I'm still getting used to the way I look, which is quite different from when I wear it down. I think I look more Asian, though I can't explain why.