Those of us who are forced to take public transit to get to work each day, know full-well the drudgery of the whole endeavor. Exciting things rarely happen on the morning train.
Zoë was 27 years old when she began her daily commute on the train to London. It was, like most commutes on public transit, a less than exciting experience. Then, a dark, handsome stranger came into her life…
Hertfordshire to King’s Cross
Zoë took the same train every day, the 8:21am train from Hitchin, Hertfordshire into King’s Cross Station in London. She worked for a teen magazine in the city and the commute, while not exceptionally long, was beginning to drag her down. The delays, the overcrowding, and worst of all, the fact that everyone seemed to be feeling the same way but never talked to one another.
The Same Faces
She felt like she was seeing the same dreary faces every day. Each morning she stood on the platform in roughly the same spot, and got onto the same compartment with the other familiar and unfamiliar strangers she saw day in and day out. Until one day, Zoë noticed someone different on the platform, and he caught her eye…
There was a new fellow walking up onto the platform, and he was a rather handsome fellow at that. Zoë remembered thinking “he looks lovely” and was instantly smitten with him. After that, her dreary morning commute seemed to brighten up. Even though they hadn’t spoken, his mere presence made the train ride that much better.
Zoë and the man would exchange hellos now and again, but her progress due to these innocuous and surreptitious flirtations were going nowhere. She decided to amp things up by making more of an effort with her appearance. She got her hair done more often and wore more makeup in an attempt to catch his eye…
Zoë took to calling her crush “Train Man” and she told all her work friends about him. Her colleagues were amazingly supportive of Zoë’s new obsession, though it was very likely because they were living vicariously through her experience. Each day they’d ask things like: “How’s train man today?” Or “What was he wearing? Or “Did he look up?”
Love at First Sight
Despite the fact that she knew it was crazy for her to feel that way, Zoë was beginning to think that the things she was feeling for Train Man were what all the story books and romantic comedies talk about all the time. For some reason she knew that she wasn’t just captivated by an attractive man, she was feeling true love at first sight…
If it was true love, she figured she should get to know him better. She made it a point to always sit in the same train carriage as him, and as she did so, she’d take in little bits about him. She took note of his mannerisms, and the books or magazines he was reading. She soon found that they shared the same taste in reading materials.
Make a Move, Girl
This semi-stalking, mostly infatuated behavior continued in that way for over a year. All the while, Zoë’s friends continued to tell her that she ought to make a move and try to ask the man out. What was the worst that could happen? Finally, after several unsuccessful attempts to do so, Zoë got the courage to enact her plan…
The Drop Scheme
One of Zoë’s friends had suggested that she get Train Man’s attention by purposefully dropping her ticket on the ground in front of her. That way, he could help pick it up and they would have the perfect icebreaker to start a more meaningful conversation. It seemed like a real solid plan on paper.
In May of 2004, on her birthday to be exact, Zoë decided to act on her crush. She wrote a note for the man and headed to the train station. The note read: “It’s my birthday and I think everyone should do something frivolous on their birthday and this is my thing. I think you look lovely. If you’d like to go for a drink here’s my email address, if not, happy travels and I’ll leave you in peace…”
Her heart was in her hand as she gave over the note. The man, whose name she found out was Mark, appeared befuddled at the onset. The note explained all her feelings and included her email address so that he could write her back. She hoped it would work, but the look on Mark’s face was not exactly comforting.
Zoë’s workday was excruciating. She waited all day for a reply. Finally, at 5pm she noticed a new email in her inbox. It was Mark, politely declining her offer for a drink. He told her that he was very flattered, but that he had a girlfriend and could not in good conscience accept her proposal. Zoë was crushed, but she understood. After all, if she were with Mark, she wouldn’t want him to be seeing other women…
Obsession of Sorts
What followed was a rather awkward eight months passing between the two star-crossed commuters. They smiled at each other if they saw one another on the train, but that was about it. For her part, Zoë did her best to move on and even went on some dates with other men. Yet she was still so besotted with Mark that she just couldn’t get over him.
Then, one day, Zoë got an unwarranted email from Train Man. The email read: ”If you still fancied that drink would you like to go out? My circumstances have changed and it would be lovely to go out for a drink.” Both of them were finally single together. It was the chance she had been waiting for…
The pair decided to meet up for that drink and though the beginning of the date did have its share of awkwardness, it soon became clear that the two were meant for one another. Mark told Zoë that he too had noticed her on the train from time to time. He had noticed what he called her ‘sparkly eyes’ as well, and knew that those eyes were for him. He just couldn’t act on it.
Over the next few weeks, Mark and Zoë learned that they had a lot more in common than just reading habits and a mutual physical attraction. Within three months, they were moving in together. What followed was a whirlwind romance. They quit their jobs to go traveling and three years later, while they were in Australia, Mark popped the question…
The couple were married and built a life together. Today, they have two sons: Felix, who is seven, and Max who is five. They currently reside in England, where Zoë continues to do what she loves: write. Recently, she has decided to pen her account of her train-born marriage for posterity.
Life Inspires Art
When she sat down to write a romance novel, Zoë decided that there was no source better than her own love story. Inspired by her own journey to true love, she took details from her life and her experience to tell the tale in a fairly truthful, albeit, much juicier way. But does Train Man approve of their love life as her newest project?
Keeping it From Him
Thankfully for the both of them, Mark actually loves the idea of Zoë writing their story down and sharing it with the world. “Mark loves it actually he didn’t read it until i got my book deal,” she explained. “Mainly it was me stopping him from reading it it’s women’s commercial fiction it might not be his bag.”
She went on to add that even after he read it, Mark loved the book. He admitted it was strange for him to be fictionalized, but that he appreciates reading all her feelings about him put to the page. Just goes to show you that some people are meant for one another.