Patterns

She enters the train in Flamengo station, all bundled up in her black high-collar jacket. She is in her late twenties. With dark skinny jeans and black heels, the only source of color in her somber ensemble is her sparkling chandelier earrings.  She is going for the simple chic look, as always, trying to blend in. She could almost successfully pass for a local (carioca) if it weren’t for her short, wavy blond hair. In Rio, young women come out of the factory with long, brown, and straight(ened) locks, in this order of frequency so she is clearly not from here.

The sadness in her eyes is reflecting the gloomy, rainy, early winter evening. She is having one of those bad days when one just wants to crawl under the covers and sleep until happy times are back. Unfortunately, this is not an option; her friends are visiting from overseas and they have to be entertained.

As she finds her spot, pressing her back against the train wall, she notices Him. Early 40’s. Carrying a black HP backpack (“just like the one they gave us at work..” she is thinking). Handsome face, strong features, dark wavy hair. He is tall and fit. “Must be a runner,” she notes to herself. They just manage to exchange a quick glance before something strange happens.

Three young men in their mid twenties enter the train carrying musical instruments and occupy the space between our two strangers. They are an interesting bunch: Guitar Boy (dreadlocks, hands covered in kabbalah tattoos), Tambourine Boy (blond hair under a hipster hat, eyeglasses taped with a band-aid), and Saxophone Boy (black hair, looks like a football fan in his Vasco athletic shirt).

She is expecting a typical cacophony (she was so used to blocking those out during her New York subway days) but she is in for a surprise: the three musicians start playing light samba music, slowly rocking their bodies in harmony. She is captivated and when she looks around the whole wagon is rocking along. It is as if the air received an injection of sudden energy or everyone just simultaneously decided to take their happy pills. She catches herself smiling and rocking from side to side, just like everybody else and then she notices him again, doing the same thing, just on the other side of the music circle.

She feels the urge to cut across and introduce herself but then, the train arrives to its destination in Ipanema. He gets off and she follows, focusing on the black backpack walking in front of her. He stops at the escalator. Then, filled with that earlier energy, she passes him, walking up the stairs. He surveys her slim back, and those skinny legs in the skinny jeans, getting away from him. He speeds up and passes her again. He exits the station, boards the connecting bus most foreigners take to Leblon, and gets into the window seat. “Will she follow again?” He wonders.

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