A young woman just sat down next to me on the train. I suspect she’s very attractive but I’ve not wanted to look at her. It would be obvious if I did. More significantly it would damage something in our current relationship.
I’ve just been reading stories about love. They were complex, subtle stories written from a female perspective; very frank and open about desire or lack of it. The feelings of the various narrators were often ambiguous, their motives unknown even to themselves. Sexual desire seemed connected to fantasy and would more-often dissolve wherever it became manifest in reality.
Out of the corner of my eye I can see the young woman is blond, although her roots may be slightly darker. She has a black sweater and has pulled up the sleeves slightly. No wait, they are folded up as part of the design. The ‘corner’ of the eye presents a very liminal reality where shapes and forms don’t become fixed by recognition.
She is wearing a short denim skirt and I can see the pale skin of her legs as I look down to write. I feel guilty about seeing them and writing about them, but not guilty just for seeing them. Although I can see her legs quite directly, not strictly through the corner of my eye, they are submerged in shadow.
The young woman is also writing in a book. In fact she started first, so I have become a kind of imitator. Her book is larger than mine. Not looking directly, I can be fairly sure that it is unruled and is a sketch book of sorts. From the close-knitted movement of her right hand, which she supports with her left hand, I think she is writing rather than drawing. Distinguishing writing from drawing by only considering isolated physical movements and not the resultant marks amuses me. Writing without semantics, without reading, becomes a form of dance.
She has a ring on the finger of her right hand, an addition to her hand-dance. Her left hand is too far out on the periphery of my vision to know if she has rings on that hand too. She keeps her small black travel case in her lap. It has a grey and white flora pattern across it. I now see her ring is quite large, perhaps with a certain spiritual connotation – it is not a ‘practical ring’.
Then she gets up. She may just be changing seats or she may be getting off. I break my game and look at her directly, only to capture a fleeting image as she moves behind me. My impression of her changes instantly and I recognise assumptions that I had made but didn’t realise. She is attractive, but in a plainer way had I had thought, in a better way. She has a slightly Scandinavian look about her too, perhaps an academic look about her. The image was captured in a brief moment and even though I’m no longer looking from the corner of my eye I still feel I’m straining in a very similar way to extract information from such a brief exposure to the senses.
I wonder about the lack of drama in the situation. I’m not one for affairs and so the intrigue of where this encounter might lead to was cut off before I began writing, before I chose how I might look at her. Can ‘interesting’ writing only serve certain outcomes. Is writing only a vehicle for desires that have outcomes, that satisfy an urge for two people to overcome various obstacles and then to finally be united. Should I necessarily fabricate some further encounter or happening.
I choose not to. If active looking is a vehicle for recognition and projection, if it is something that provides a programme for the satisfaction of certain desires, if it ossifies the world then, I think, then, this is writing from a blind spot.