stranger on a train

On the train yesterday morning, I was sharing a pole with a woman who was as close to a duplicate of my deceased wife Siri as any one woman could be. Same height, same hair, same eyebrows even. Same taste in winter coats—I swear it was from Costume National—and even the same clear melodic speaking voice that reminds one of Judy Garland.

I’ve seen women who have reminded me of Siri. I’ve seen t-shirts and bridges and cars and cats who’ve reminded me of Siri. This woman on the train wasn’t a reminder; she was a Xerox copy. I looked away many times (because it’s rude to stare at a stranger on a train who’s 18 inches from you) and stole glances occasionally at her while she spoke excitedly to her two friends (a young couple visiting NYC from Ohio was what I gathered from their conversation) to verify that she was not actually Siri come back to live again in New York.

She wasn’t Siri, of course. She was younger by ten years than the Siri I met in 2000. And while it’s not surprising that there should be women roving the planet who look like Siri, it’s still shocking to see her likeness in a stranger on a crowded subway train on my morning commute to work.

Lately I’ve been struck acutely by a sort of clichéd cosmic comic existential loneliness. There are about a dozen reasons for this and none of them hold up under close examination, and so I am left feeling silly, and in turn isolated by my silliness, because I judge myself for feeling what I am feeling.

At what point do I either stop feeling sorry for myself (if that is indeed the conclusion–that I am indulging myself) , or is the question actually at what point do I stop feeling this way (assuming that the feelings are legitimate…and then who decides what are legitimate versus illegitimate feelings?)?

I’m a mixed-up bundle of mix-up, and I am not the person who will unravel the tangled strands of my mind-heart.

This state I am in is a straight jacket I cannot free myself from.



Filed under journal, New York City

2 responses to “stranger on a train

  1. Teresa

    all feelings are legitimate.

    i think maybe you need to write that down multiple times in multiple locations.

    • Timothy

      This is one of the best things anyone has ever said to me, and I remember it nearly every time I feel self-judgment coming on. Thank you, Teresa.

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