The Woman Who Loved Chopin


I find it awesome to meet someone with passion. I don’t always “get” what they’re passionate about, but I respect it.  I find it powerful and somewhat infectious.  You can see the energy rippling off them in waves.  Sometimes it appears as frantic, almost uncontainable, energy.  Sometimes it appears as deep calm and understanding.  This is the story of my latest brush with it.

First some background. Last night, I went out for drinks with some colleagues.  I do not often go out with these people (maybe never….) but I decided to start saying yes to more social invitations.  The reason for the gathering was a colleague who had relocated to Vancouver and was back for a month.  That colleague is very busy and this was the only time we could meet.

On the subway, after transferring at Bloor and heading west towards our destination (Christie station and an intimate cafe with an incredible beer selection called Pour Boys–which explains why I was unable to compose this story last night, despite a strong desire to do so) I noticed a person to my right was reading a book. In these situations, I have incredible curiosity.  I tried surreptitiously to read the title, figuring that if it were a popular book I would recognize it immediately.  As that was not the case, I took a step forward and squinted at the cover.  As you can imagine, this drew a bit of attention from the young woman in question, Rather than admit defeat, I boldly asked her what she was reading.

And then the floodgates opened.

She came closer to us and explained that she was reading a book about Chopin. She had dark slightly curly hair and some definite fashion style.  She was undeniably attractive, but it was her passion for the subject matter that really bowled me over.

She spent some time telling me about the book and how she was reading everything about Chopin she could get her hands on. No doubt the book she was reading was well read, if not by her then by its previous owner.  For this blog, I wanted to find the exact book she was reading, if only to honour the event, but I was unable to do so.  (I remember it having a black cover with only a small splash of colour, possibly purple, racing across the top.)

Then she did something I hadn’t seen anyone do in a long time. She opened the book and commanded me to “read this passage.” She said it with that passion someone who loved music would tell you to shut up and listen to a particular verse or part or musical part.  She said it like “foodie” would implore you to try something they were eating.  She wanted to show me, to explain to me, to give me something from the book that was the key.  She wanted to share and create a fan.

In fact, it was a powerful and macabre paragraph illustrating the author’s love for, awe of, and perhaps obsession with Chopin–desiring every kind of closeness, including a reverberating hug with the corpse of the composer.  When she said that she understood it well and wished for much the same, it was clear that she was a passionate soul.

For the next couple of stations she talked about Chopin and her history of studying music. Sadly, tendonitis has derailed her career and she is teaching music.  However, her passion was undiminished.  Her and one of my colleagues who had also studied music, traded names and recommendations while I stood by mutely.

I have to admit, I don’t have that kind of passion for music. I love music, but so many of my other colleagues have all consuming passions about it.  They’ve always carting around their instruments, or huddled away with their gigantic headphones around their heads.  I am no slouch about what I like, but these people revel in their knowledge, continuously quizzing each other, referencing things I don’t know about.  Then they start talking about Jazz and I tune out completely.

My passion is probably literature. I love books and words. I love the way they sound in my head and when they are spoken aloud.  I love how one sentence can fill a room and how one sentence can cut something so perfectly in half.  I love how one sentence can move the world.


While my colleagues and this woman were speaking, I heard her mention ” Pathetique”.  I picked this word out of the jumble of technical things which I did not understand, but knew I had heard it before.  I struggled to unravel the connection, but could not.  It was only hours later, after saying goodbye to my colleagues and heading home, that I remembered how prominently it was featured in the book,  School of Velocity,  I had read earlier this year.  Isn’t it amazing when you can find even subtle connections to strangers.  Isn’t it amazing how everything fits together.

As for the woman who loved Chopin, she had to get off before we did. As I watched her leave, I instantly regretted not inviting her for drinks with us.  I would have loved a few more minutes of that ardour.  It would have gone so well with the beer I drank.   Even now, half a day later, I can still feel it tingling in the air.  It still forms an invisible connection.  It still resonates as a perfect moment.


About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, beer, books, chance meetings, Chopin, coincidence, literature, luck, meeting people, passion, subway, taking chances and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The Woman Who Loved Chopin

  1. Joanna Axiak says:

    I enjoyed that Anthony 🙂

  2. anyfidelity says:

    Wonderful post-that was a great experience you shared.

  3. The wiser says:

    Well done. Enjoyed this

  4. Mike Kergon says:

    Lol. I was rooting for you to ask for her number. Next time…

  5. WOW!!! Thanks for suggesting I read this one. After a hectic, crazy day…I needed a breathe of fresh air, and I remember you had said to read this. Thank you !!! What a wonderful piece 🙂

  6. Sarah Warsi says:

    Great post. Yes, finding common ground with strangers is an amazing feeling – the kind of energy that exudes from that connection is unlike anything else. My passion is writing – plain and simple. 🙂

    And I must say, that I am glad you managed to chat with a normal, pleasant person on the subway, since many times, we tend to encounter some major crazies while riding the rocket! The last time a stranger started talking to me on the subway, I had to lose him in the crowd going up the escalator because he wouldn’t stop following me! :S Not my best experience. lol

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  8. Heide says:

    How did I miss this marvelous post?! I love that you got so engrossed in this woman’s *passion* the subject of her affections may almost have been irrelevant. What a wonderful curiosity you bring to your life, Anthony.

    • Anthony says:

      Thank you. This along with “ballet slippers” are amongst my favourite posts. It is also one I reflect on often in those moments when the world is quiet and I have time to think.
      I work around a lot of creative and diverse people, and I find in them a lot of passion for things that I could hardly imagine, but this was somehow different. Maybe it was because it was art. Maybe it was because I took a chance to speak with her even though I was riding the subway with others. Maybe it was because it was a perfect moment that outshone the social night that lay ahead.
      My only wish is that, by some sheer piece of luck, she could read it too.

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  11. beckysopenbook says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your line “I find it awesome to meet someone with passion. I don’t always “get” what they’re passionate about, but I respect it.”

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