An Hour in the Life: 8AM25 February 2016
I fall in love on the train at eight in the morning. For most people, 8am is about as romantic as that ‘lookaway and rapidly swipe right’ thing you used to do on Tinder when you were bored, but for me it’s as romantic as actually having read someone’s bio – then swiping right.
There’s something about the blearyeyed naïveté of the hour that gets me in the mood. It’s not coy and mysterious like twilight or sexy and unrestrained like midnight. The sun is bright and glaring; nothing is hidden – nothing is secret. 8am is plain, unfurnished and frankly kind of pissy. It’s not draped in a gossamer gown or wrapped in a velvet suit, but is rather poured into an illfitting business suit with some tomato sauce stains on the lapel, or a damp denim jacket which inexplicably still smells like Revolver: sex, sweat and regret.
8am is beautiful.
I always get on the train at exactly 7:58 and as I sit down on the dusty, graffitiridden seat (nothing in life is inevitable except taxes, death, and penises sharpied on trains), I’ll share a brief moment with the girl across from me. A second of eye contact, a courteous smile. I’ll politely smile back. The clock’ll tick over from 7:59 to 8:00 and the magic of the hour will begin.
The strange metallic smell that pervades all Melbourne trains will suddenly disappear and I’ll start to wonder if maybe, just maybe, this stranger is The One. The soulmate whom Zeus, fearing our combined power, split from me so long ago? I’ll summarily decide that she unequivocally is. This is the moment all those hours of Friends, How I Met Your Mother and countless romcoms have prepared me for. The exact moment where my life will finally be given the greatest of all meanings: love worthy of a sitcom.
I’ll close my eyes and imagine our future together.
On our first date, we take the 96 out to St Kilda. I joke nervously about my lack of a car. She doesn’t mind. We stroll down the Esplanade and she tells me about her keen interest in 18th Century French history ̧ The Libertines and the work of Alfred Sisley. I make a joke about Molière and our hands briefly touch as we meander along the pier. The moment is perfect. The rain comes down. We kiss and the little girl and her band from Love Actually sing ‘All I Want for Christmas’ in the background. Fireworks pop overhead.
Six years later and we’re living in a nice double-storey in East Malvern. We wear a lot of brightly coloured pastel cableknit jumpers and one of the kids is named Tarquin or something (maybe Jacob?). We still look at each other the same way we did all those years ago (oh and the girl from Love Actually still sings Mariah Carey in the background every time we kiss). We really have found true love.
I sit down at the kitchen table, smile and sip my decaf sugarless chamomile with honey. A letter addressed to me lies on the table amongst copies of Town and Country (hers) and Donna Hay: Fresh + Light (mine). Bemused, I open the letter with one hand, bringing my tea up for another sip with the other. My eyes widen. The teacup comes crashing down with the force of a thousand thimble-sized suns.
‘My dear,’ it says, ‘I simply cannot abide by this boring life any more. I love you, but you have become the human equivalent of stale white bread – stale and white bred. I have decided to move to Rio de Janeiro with the dog and my lover. You can keep the kids. I’ve left you hotdogs for dinner, they’re thawing in the sink.’
My breathing quickens, my left arm tingles, pain envelopes the left side of my body. I die, heartbroken in my blue morning robe as the hotdogs silently defrost.
I awaken from my daydream to see my love has left the train. I sigh. Oh well. There’s always 8am tomorrow.