The subway line that I’m most familiar with is called the Bundang Line – it extends for about twenty stations southeast of Seoul and goes into the suburbs (although still urban by American standards). My stop is called Sunae (수내) Station. It’s one of the smaller stations in the Seoul Subway network, with only two levels (platform + concourse). The station is located right below a massive Lotte Department Store, which is six floors high and filled with all sorts of cool things.
There are four exits, two going in one direction and two going in the other direction. Exits 2 and 3 are the ones that lead to home, and out of those, I take exit #2 simply because it has an escalator and the other one doesn’t.
One day last week, after a tiring-but-exciting day at the office (the interns were getting together for a project and we had finished with our exploratory meeting), the doors whooshed open at Sunae Station and I stepped off the train.
You know that awkward moment when you’re walking up the stairs and some girl in a miniskirt is up a few stairs from you and you can’t help but stare? Yeah, that happened. She was wearing a pleated skirt, a blue hoodie, and her hair was falling down around her shoulders.
Once we were at the top of the stairs (we were the last two to leave the platform, thanks to getting off from the last car of the train) we went our separate ways.
No big deal.
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I could see her walking in the same direction as me, separated by a wall of pillars that supported the concourse. I walked slightly faster because I really didn’t want to be labeled as a pervert (seriously, it wasn’t my fault!), and once I was on the escalator heading up exit #2 I breathed a sigh of relief.
Until I stepped outside and saw the familiar blue hoodie emerging from exit #3.
Avoiding her as much as I could, I started walking – there’s about a five-minute walk through a park that separates the station from where I live.
And that was when something curious happened.
It took a few yards before I noticed that we – the anonymous girl and I – were about ten yards apart, walking parallel to each other, in step.
It might not sound like much, but you had to be there. You know that moment when you suddenly find yourself in a movie and start playing a soundtrack over your actions? That happened.
It was surreal; neither of us acknowledged each other, neither of us didn’t do so much as exchange glances, but as we walked in step down the avenue – there was something that flowed, something that was communicated between us.
You might say that it was just a coincidence, that things like walking in step with a random stranger for a few seconds can happen anywhere, but this wasn’t one of those coincidences. First of all, she was about a head shorter than me – as far as I could tell – and I wasn’t walking exactly slow. Second, this wasn’t for a few seconds. This was for a whole five minutes.
And for some reason, I never got the idea to go up to her and ask her name. Perhaps the enormity of the moment struck me only later, but in any case, she was in the corner of my eye one second, and the next second, she dropped out of it and when I turned around after a few more steps, she was gone.
I never got to see her face, neither did I ever get her name, but I know that she was beautiful.