I'm on a train while I'm writing this - the 4:09 from Baltimore to Philadelphia - two cities that members of my family call home. My sister and I grew up just outside of Philly in a little suburb called Wayne and now she's a psych major at Johns Hopkins and I'm still in high school. I was visiting her this weekend (the second in December), and now I'm headed home. It's a Saturday evening; the train is quiet.
Outside, it's snowing. It started about an hour ago at ultimate practice and now we're in the thick of it; the sky is gray and the air is foggy and filled with flakes. This kind of weather makes for good traveling along the Northeast Corridor - the forests look empty without leaves, dark branches silhouetted against a light background. When we're lucky enough to pass over a body of water, the gray surface turns the same shade of gray as the sky; the horizon disappears, leaving only a solid gray wall.
We'll be pulling into Wilmington in a moment.
In the seat in front of me are a young woman and her son. She is reading and he is cutting out little Christmas trees out of green construction paper. I cannot help but admire the attention he is devoting to his task.
The fog is letting up a little bit, and the sky is darkening. The train begins passing through more residential areas.
I am riding alone. I like to ride alone, even though I don't do it much. I visited my sister once last year, but other than that I don't think I've ridden alone. I know that there will be no shortage of times in my life when I travel lone. I think it's something of a rite of passage. It's pleasant enough to be in solitude; as young children, we don't get much in the way of being alone. We're with people: our parents, our teachers, our chaperones. As adults, we're alone all the time. We take the bus alone. We go to our jobs alone. We fall asleep alone. If we're lucky we get married or we have children - we get people so we don't have to be alone, but even with people we have to be alone sometimes. Adults have to be alone sometimes. It's just the way things are.
Solitude is nice. Right now I'm feeling okay about being alone. The bottom line is this, though: being alone is okay, but being with people is better. I'm taking this train because I wanted to visit my sister in Baltimore and now I'm headed home on a Saturday night because I want to see my friends and tomorrow I'm performing in a concert because I want to be with people and to sing with people and to show off for people.
The Christmas lights around here sure are pretty. I wish you could see them.