I love trains—relaxing in the passenger seat, the ever-changing scenery right outside my window, the sense of adventure as I approach a new destination. And coming home.
I was thrilled when I found out, upon my first visit to Conn, there was an Amtrak station in downtown New London. Now that I’m a junior, I’ve taken advantage of the train’s proximity countless times: escaping campus for breaks, traveling to Boston or New York, or enjoying an occasional, restful weekend at home.
I recently had one of those weekends. I came home and spent quality time with my family, the first time we had all been reunited since my sister left for college at the end of the summer. But before I know it, Sunday afternoon comes along and I’m back at Newark Penn Station for my train to New London. Toting my duffel bag, purse and plastic bag filled with homemade leftovers from Mom, I stand on the tracks and see a delay on the schedule. Ugh, I think. Better early than late, I suppose. I lean against the platform wall for 20 minutes, glancing at my phone, until the train arrives and I hop on. My bag rolling down the aisles, I scan the rows for a seat and plop myself down in an empty two-seater. I struggle using my five-foot, two-inch frame to haul my bag above the seat, standing on the seat to support myself and getting a disapproving glance from a conductor. I manage to place the bag securely without dropping it on my head, so I consider this a victory and take my seat. Two women in front of me are chatting loudly and endlessly about the state of the pharmaceutical industry. I wisely respond to their conversation by inserting my headphones. Much better, I think as I block out the noise. I’ll educate myself some other time. My mild irritation at the delay and pointless conversation disappears as sun shines through the windows and cityscapes, lakes and homes continuously passing by. I pull out a book and resolve to catch up on some reading for class. The sun and blue skies keep tearing me away from the pages, and I find myself daydreaming, in a trance by just glancing out the window.
I’m taken out of my reverie when the conductor stops by to inform me that New London will be our next stop. I’m always surprised by how much I equally enjoy the travel and the arrival to the destination. I reflect on my ride as I walk to the front of the train, step off and briskly walk toward the front of the station. I look forward to the comforting sameness and security of my next routine—and taking that short taxi ride from the station, dragging my bags up the Knowlton stairs as I settle into the place I currently call home.