from hausfrau by jill alexander essbaum

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And she liked riding trains; she found a lulling comfort in the way they rocked side to side as they moved forward. p 4

When T was young Thomas the Tank Engine was his best friend. Our lives revolved around the trains and the tracks. I remember he got his first car when has two years old, but I’m not sure if I can recall when the infatuation ended. I do know that it lasted for years and years, and I can still hum the theme song. When children play with the cars and track we have at the Library I am instantly transported back to that time. To the days when T would ask us to create a new set up— his only criteria being we had to use all the pieces of track. His tiny demands certainly forced us to be creative. The floor of his room was always covered with these toys, and birthdays were easy, because he always got something new to add to the mix.

When he was five, M and I took T up north to ride the Hobo Train. It was a real train that basically went out a small distance and then returned backwards. Thinking about it now I don’t imagine the ride took long at all, but the kids who were riding that day were utterly enchanted. It was like all of their dreams had finally come true. At the end of the day we went home with a new engineer cap and a wooden whistle. I’m sure they are still tucked away some where, as are all of the Thomas trains. We’ve boxed them up, and stored them at the top of the closet. I’d love to have that storage space back for something else, but honestly I am waiting for the day when I get to break out the toys for the next generation. Opening the boxes will be like visiting with old friend. James, Bertie Bus, Toad, Percy and my favorite, Toby. They still have a long time to wait to feel children’s hands on them again, but the reunion will be sweet

This week I realized that T really hasn’t been on a train in years, maybe since that magic day when he turned 5. Thursday I took him to the station to ride the rails for 12 hours. His destination— DC. His mission— the prom. It was just a quick trip, in fact he’s back on the train now as I right this, Saturday afternoon. I look forward to hearing about his time in the big city. I hope the whole thing was just as fantastic and fulfilling as when he was little. When we got to the station on Thursday, I thought we had entered a different world. Time was slower there. People sat with suitcases, passing the time by reading. It seemed they didn’t have a care in the world. No one was tapping their feet or looking at their watches. Two older guys, curmudgeons in the sweetest way possible, sat swapping tales about trains and shows and engines they’d seen. One wore overalls and a cap. The other had shorts and black socks. He had a camera around his neck, and I could tell these surroundings were an important part of his life. I wondered if he played with trains when he was little. Was it a lifelong passion or did it fade and then reemerge in his later years? I can see why he loves them. The nostalgia that accompanies this form of transportation makes it easy to romanticize this way of life. Slower then a plane, faster than a car; moving forward, yet side-to-side at the same time. It sounds like a lifestyle we should embrace more.

T’s train arrived more or less on time and everyone got up and boarded. It was an exchange that took mere minutes. All I could think of was the hullabaloo that happens when you try and get on a plane. This was almost blessedly uneventful. Of course it was strange leaving T at the station and getting back in the car. I am often the one headed out on the adventure. Yes, I was teary. It felt like a practice parting. But I’m looking forward to his return. Maybe this is the start of a new train fascination. Oh the places he can go…

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