Love Can Happen Anywhere - Even on Mass Transit
Monday, February 14, 2011
One would think Cupid, a Roman god, wouldn't hang out in the subway. But given the responses we received after asking couples who met on mass transit to share their stories, we concluded the God of Desire has an unlimited Metrocard.
In 2009, Daniel Espinosa, in town from Connecticut, was waiting on the Downtown 6 train platform at 33rd Street around 6:30 p.m. after wrapping up a business meeting. He sensed a woman was standing behind him. He turned and saw Rebecca Stepler, who was headed from work to her home in Brooklyn.
"I asked her if she knew of a good place to go for a drink," he said. "You know, I was playing a little dumb."
He may have been an out-of-towner but he knew where the bars were. In fact, he had plans to meet friends at a bar in a couple of hours.
Rebecca rattled off a list of establishments. Daniel listened politely, without really listening. When she finished, he got to the point: "Will you join me?" he asked. She thought to herself, "I'm not that kind of person." Then she thought: "What the hell. It's only a drink."
They took the train, got off at 14th Street, and walked a couple of blocks to Nevada Smith's. Over beers, the strangers warmed to each other. "She thought I was genuine, I guess," Daniel said. Rebecca said their conversation was unusual for two people who'd just met because it was "so natural."
Two hours later, Daniel reluctantly left to join his friends. Except that's not where he was going. Rebecca said, "He actually had a couple of hours to kill because he had a date."
"Yeah," said Rebecca. "I'm the one who usually tells that part of the story."
They laugh about it now because after that chance encounter on the platform, they began spending weekends together. Four months later, he moved into her apartment in Downtown Brooklyn. In March 2010, they married.
We heard the same story arc, with varying details, from many others.
"I was teaching a stage combat workshop at NYU," wrote Susan Gosdick, when one warm night she decided to walk past her usual N / R stop and get on at the next one. So did a man named John. On the train, he recognized a manual she was holding. "Pardon me," he said. "Are you a voice teacher?"
And so another tale begins, one that it will end with words: "Here we are, 7-1/2 years later."
A few people noted they fall in love on the subway every day -- silently, behind the sliding doors of their hearts. But no one wrote with a story about abruptly sharing an eye-lock across a crowded car that produces an instantaneous incandescence, as happens to Gwyneth Paltrow in the movies.
Stories of subway love usually start with one person cautiously sticking out a foot from their isolation pod. "You learn to be very wary as a woman traveling on the subway," Gosdick said. Yet she talked to John. Today she marvels at the chain of circumstance that placed them together -- on a rush-hour train, no less. "It's funny that this is the way my husband and I would meet."
And why not? Mass transit mashes up anywhere from four to seven million people a day in New York City. Surely some are bound to recognize, in the artificial moonlight of a subterranean cavern, the one they've been waiting for.
Hear the story of how Phil Denniston popped the question to Jen Hixson on the subway.
Did you meet your partner on the subway? Tell your story below in the comments section. To read more tales of love underground, go to Transportation Nation.