|My life is lived in journeys
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
I was a bit late getting to the train today and thus got stuck sitting next to a Daily Mail reader. I was amused to note that people had avoided the available seat next to him. I sat there because it was the only free seat. He behaved as one might expect. Though I was compressed tightly into my aisle seat, his arm and his newspaper kept crossing well into the space in front of me. He huffed through his nostrils grumpily as he finished each paragraph. Finally, I rolled my eyes, dropped my book pointedly into my lap and turned the full force of my glare on him for half a second. (This amused me because five years ago, I probably would have called him an asshole to his face.) He had enough vestigial British politeness to get the nonverbal message and grudgingly move his arm out of my vicinity. I have developed enough sensitivity to the subtle rigidity of posture that characterizes British rage to know that he sulked angrily for the remainder of the journey to Kings Cross. When we arrived, I was extra-polite and smiling to the people around me as we began the graceful and largely courteous dance that is disembarking from a crowded commuter train. He stayed in his seat, glowering. I glanced back once I was on the platform to see him still there, tracking me with resentful eyes.
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.
There's a Fungus Amongus (aka "It's behind you")
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.