When I started working in downtown Chicago in September 1993, I commuted from Aurora via Metra train. One day in October, I started a conversation with a woman on the train and got her number. It was a major achievement because I was never good at flirting. I was so excited that I couldn't help blabbing to my co-workers (a young, fun gang of people, the best). They immediately branded her "the Metra babe"... and started calling me "the Metra stalker."
I was starting a new job in a new environment, and I was making more money than ever before. A previous relationship was just far enough in the past that I was finally ready to move on -- a huge step for me. A girlfriend seemed to be the only thing missing from my happy little life, so I thought my chance encounter with this woman was nothing less than a sign from above.
I was listening to Aerosmith's Pump and Get A Grip a lot on my Walkman as I traveled 50 minutes each way on the train. I seized upon "Amazing" as a sort of theme song for my relationship with this woman, though it was just as much about letting go of the past:
It's amazingIt's pretty clear now that I had way too much invested right from the start. I was so sure it was "going somewhere" that I was completely blind to the reality of the situation.
With the blink of an eye you finally see the light
When the moment arrives that you know you'll be alright
And I'm sayin' a prayer for the desperate hearts tonight
We had a nice date or two and met up on the train occasionally, but the relationship never really took off. She never seemed quite as happy about running into me on the train as I was. And while I would go to great lengths to surprise or impress her, she never bothered to go out of her way for me. In her defense, her life was pretty miserable at that moment. She was taking night classes and changing careers, bouncing back from being laid off. She had a really lousy, stressful job that consumed much of her time and energy. It didn't matter to me then that she was about eight years older, but once I reached her age, I realized how cynical she must have been about relationships, work, and life. Simply put, there was nothing "amazing" to her about us, if "us" ever even occurred to her.
That relationship gave me a book's worth of pathetic, self-deprecating stories. I won't share them here, but I will revisit the Metra babe tomorrow...