Missed Connections

The American-founded website craigslist is used to post advertisements: for jobs, dining room tables, dates, room vacancies… it also has a certain reputation following the scandal caused by its ‘adult services‘ page. Hidden in the ‘personal’ ads section, however, is something different: a page titled ‘Missed Connections’. If you’ve ever seen the odd poster in a train station (“blue eyed beauty from Acton, you know who you are – call me…”), this is essentially a place for such posters to manifest themselves on the internet.

Many of the brief encounters described on the page take place on public transport, and I love the London Underground for this very reason. It throws so many people together into such a tight space that connections – brief, missed or continued – are bound to occur. The tube provides a liminal space where risks are easier to take because you’re not quite in the real world. When you’re barrelling towards reality it feels very urgent that you act according to  instinct, especially since your escape route is seconds away if it doesn’t pay off. The tube is one of my favourite places to people watch. The guy sitting next to you has terrible taste in cologne. The boy sitting a little further down is very good at angry birds. The woman doing her make up in the tiny compact mirror of her bronzer probably overslept. There’s an inevitable intimacy in sharing a journey with someone; you have no choice in the matter. People notice things about you, too.

In light of Sophie Blackall’s illustrations, craigslist, a forum that has ripe potential to attract some odd types, proves to also to be a home for romance, humour, and heartbreak. Her illustrations capture the charm and intimacy of these ‘Missed Connections’ so playfully. Here are some of my favourites… the last illustration (and story) is particularly touching.

“A young friend of mine recently acquainted me with the intricacies of Missed Connections, and I have decided to try to find you one final time.

Many years ago, we were friends and teachers together in New York City. Perhaps we could have been lovers too, but we were not. We used to take trips to Coney Island, especially during the spring, when we would stroll hand  in hand, until our palms got too sweaty, along the boardwalk, and take refuge in the cool darkness of the aquarium. We liked to visit the whale best. One spring, it arrived from its winter home (in Florida? I can’t remember). Everyone at the aquarium was very excited — a baby beluga whale was going to be born in New York City! You insisted that we not miss the birth, so every day after class, and on both Saturday and Sunday, we would take the D  train all the way from Harlem to Coney Island.

We got there one Saturday as the aquarium opened and there was a sign posted to the glass tank. The baby beluga had been born dead. The mother, the sign read, was recovering but would be fine. We read the sign in shock and watched the single beluga whale in her tank. She was circling slowly. Neither of us could speak. Suddenly, without warning, the beluga started to throw herself against the wall of the tank. Trainers came and ushered us out. We sat on a bench outside, and suddenly I felt tears running down my face. You saw, turned my face towards yours, and kissed me. We had never kissed before, and I let my lips linger on yours for a second before I stood up and walked towards the ocean.

It was too much — the whale, the death, the kiss — and I wasn’t ready.

Forgive me — I don’t think I ever understood what an emptiness you would create when you left and I realized that that kiss on Coney Island was the first and the last.

Are you out there, dear friend?
If so, please respond. I think of you, and have thought of you often, all of these years.”

For more like this, please visit eblondiau.blogspot.co.uk

Written by Eloise Blondiau.

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