The day I met Anna
I met Anna on the 11:45 from Nottingham to Liverpool. I was running exceptionally late due to the fact I’d basically gotten lost on the way to the station, and had ended up heading through the wrong shopping centre. If it wasn’t for the elderly couple I’d asked for directions and the frequent desperate prayers I’d made to God, I’m sure I’d never have made it, and then, I’d have never met Anna.
I arrived at the station at 11:43, slightly out of breath, with my cheeks extra rosy then normal due to the speed I’d just traveled at. I boarded the train in coach A and headed down through, knocking everyone and his wife with my stupidly heavily bag until I reached B, where my seat was reserved. I felt a slight niggle at the fact I arrived to find a woman sitting in my reserved seat, but only because it had happened on the way down to Nottingham two evenings previously.
I let her know it was my seat just in case the ticket inspectors came round, but sat next to her regardless. And from there, the conversation started. Initially I was hesitant; I’m not the type to frequent public transport and chat. I’m more of the reserved type, particular English when it comes to train rides, only saying “Sorry” and “Thank you” when there is the awkward clashing of feet underneath the table, or if a ticket or pen has been dropped on the floor.
She first asked if I was okay due to my redness and if I was hot, then she enquired if I’d been shopping due to the small Primark bag I had in my hand. At this point I was still half attempting to keep conversation to a minimum – I’d an essay to finish and was reluctant to leave the train without it complete. However, the more we talked, the more I let my guard down.
Curiosity caught the better of me after about 10 minutes of casual conversation an since I’d spied her Louis Vuitton handbag, I asked what she worked as. I found it she was originally from Thailand, but lived in Suffolk as a House keeper in a international boarding school. It was her week off, and she was coming to visit her friend. I later discovered she’d had a reserved seat too, but the guard that had carried her large red case on board had told her not to worry, which is why she ended up in my seat. I love this fact now, as I’d have never have met her for various different reasons; her case could have been smaller so she’d have been able to manage to carry her case to her allocated seat, or I could have noted she was in my seat and proceeded to try find myself a empty seat in another carriage. See, millions of seemingly insignificant details could have prevent the occurrence of Anna and I meeting on seats 04 and 05 of coach B of that train that day -but they didn’t.
As we kept on talking she let me in on the fact she was actually on her way to meet a man she’d met online. The statement triggered alarm bells in my head – we all know of the horror stories now don’t we. All the possibilities ran through my head, but as we kept talking my excitement for her grew and all these faded. I was witness to her progress through all the feelings of meeting someone for the first time; the crippling nerves, coupled with the overwhelming excitement and the ‘I think I’m gonna be sick’. The whole “Jess, am I doing the right thing?!” Was added to the mix a few dozen times due the fact she’d never met him before in person. However the more we talked, the more I discovered.
She was 40 something, but I swear she didn’t look a day over 30. She had short black hair and was wearing a fedora style hat that suited her so well. Her face was bare apart from the smallest coating of mascara on her lids, and bright crimson lips. Clearly we bonded over our mutual love of red lipstick. However she only noticed I wore it due to the picture on my rail card in which I resembled something different to the greasy haired, practically bare face she’d been greeted with that day. She told me I had the prettiest eyes she’d ever seen which was difficult to react to. I can’t deal with compliments from friends, never mind complete strangers. However I felt as if I’d known Anna forever.
She kept questioning if she was doing the right thing, if she was crazy for going to visiting him? But that they’d both had felt such a connection. They talked on the phone for hours every evening, with all sorts of subject matter. I learnt he was 53, with two teenage sons and that she also had a teenage daughter. He’d been married before, but the most heart warming thing was to learn she’d never actually been on a date. I didn’t understand why but I didn’t ask…
The clock ticked nearer, and the closer we got to Sheffield the more nervous and excited we both became. We talked at this point about ‘Live and let live’. We agreed its far better to regret what you have done then regret what you always wished you had of. She showed me his profile online, so I could spot him as we pulled into the station. I think we both had the same ideas when it comes to love; Follow your instinct, be a little crazy, let your heart be broken – its better then never knowing love at all.
We decided she should keep it cool with the meeting at the plat form but she was getting so nervous in the seat next to me, with so many questions..was her hair okay? Would he find her attractive? Should she hug him or kiss him? Or just shake his hand? I tried to keep her as calm as possible as the minutes ticked by.
At this point I was just so nervous for her, but he sounded like such a gentleman. I was pretty sure this was going to be the start of something for the two of them. It was so excitement being let in on this first meeting because I’m an absolute sucker when it comes to love.
Give me all the cliche’s in the world and I’ll take all the rom coms you’ve got. I love love. I swear right now I sound like Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant in the first SATC movie but its all true. I cry at weddings, at cheesy romantic songs, old couples in the street. I don’t think I can get through an Episode of Don’t tell the bride without a few tears, and don’t even start me on Pinterest. I just love love and It makes me so happy to see other people happy.
The train was nearly pulling into the station so I helped Anna get her large case to the door. We were so excited. We hugged tightly before she got off the train, Its amazing how close and excited for someone you barely knew existed just a hour before. Anna taught me a lot, and we shared our lives for 60 minutes. Writing can’t do my experience justice but it was great to meet Anna.
As we arrived in the station I sat back down and watched hopefully out the window, hoping to spy her meeting her man. It was easy to pick him out, not because I’d seen his photo but because there was a man with the biggest, child on Christmas morning grin I’ve ever seen in my life. In his hand where the biggest bunch of yellow flowers and as Anna approached his face lit up even more. He took her case off her, then they embraced and he kissed her shyly on the cheek. Anna turned round and we waved gleefully to one another. Her man probably thought I was a little strange for looking so excited but I couldn’t care less. I squealed with happiness as the train pulled away from the station and in my head I wished her all the best. I knew I’d never see her again but that didn’t matter. It was enchanting enough to be a part of her journey, even if only for a hour.
And that was the day I met Anna.