As for many of my generation, the subway has been the great facilitator of important milestones in life, a lot of my "firsts." It took me to my first job, exposed me to my first tastes of urban Toronto and made possible my first relationship. It was also the site of my first and only marriage proposal. My strangely wonderful and frustrating boyfriend offered holy matrimony eastbound on the Bloor line. I don't remember many of the pertinent details except that I was in a very bad mood both before and after the fateful words were uttered.
K was everything I thought I wanted in a soulmate - unpretentious, artistic, self-sacrificing and totally devoted. The day he met me he made the decision to love me unconditionally. I, on the other hand, had many conditions. His unconventional behaviour lost its romantic appeal when my bourgie sensibilities started to take over. K was brilliant, yet seemed unwilling to do anything about it. "You're so smart!" I screamed at him when he dropped out of his fourth post-secondary institution after the first term. "Why won't you do something with your life?"
He would look at me intently, soak up my criticism and then calmly go on with his way of life. K was so fucking sure of himself. It was a constant reminder of my growing uncertainty about what I was supposed to do with my own life. How could I, with so much going for me, be more worried about "the future" than he was? It all seemed grossly unfair.
After I had processed his proposal, I became indignant. It seemed less about love and more about arrogance; he believed he could marry me without having anything concrete to offer.
What's worse, the location was all wrong. The subway inspired no romance. Where were the romantic cliffs and daisy-filled meadows of my imagination? I bit back an angry yelp. "How can you marry me?" I snapped. "You don't even have a job! Why are you asking me this question on the subway?" I remember the shocked look on his face. It was how K always looked when I managed to hurt him. It was a hard thing to do, because he was so indifferent to almost everything that crossed his path - except me.
These days I'm riding the subway alone. K has devoted his life to his entrepreneurial dream of owning his own pet store and writing and recording conscious rap with his crew. "It's a six-month break," he reassured me. "I'll see you all the time anyway." I haven't seen him in over a month.
I realize I'd come to rely on his love just as I relied on the subway. Both were so dependable. When I see couples on the TTC holding hands, whispering quietly to each other, I can't help but fight back tears.