October 21, 1997

Frozen in Time

A meeting in Boston made me part of the early morning commute on this weekday. I dislike driving as part of the slowly bumping horde of cars so I took the commuter rail. The train holds a special place in my heart because my father took it to and from work every day. Some of my warmest memories involve riding with him or waiting on the train platform for him to come home. So riding the train is in my genes.

I commuted a long distance to high school. While I usually took busses and subways, I sometimes rode the train. I got tired of the masses of people, the heat in summer, the too much heat in the winter and the smells. So I have mixed feelings about the train.

The trip to Boston was uneventful. The conductors have the same uniforms that they wore thirty years ago. It was at the end of the ride that this thing happened to me. I stepped off the train with all of the others and we turned to march down the platform to go into North Station.

I was in the wrong place. It had never been more clear to me. The heads were bobbing, the arms were swinging in the silence of the open space and yet there was no movement. I was frozen in the wrong place. I thought of all of those movie scenes of the busy streets of New York in which people are jostling, steam in pouring up through the sidewalk, horns are blaring and lights are blinking. But my scene was silent. We were all walking in one direction, with no faces, no voices and no feelings. We were frozen into the commute.

Could I do this everyday? No. I had thought that maybe I could, but that moment in time has made it clear to me that I am no longer capable of spending two hours a day doing that. I do not like that statement. I sound elitist and that is not my intention. I am not suggesting that others should not be doing it. But for right now it is not right for me. I feel a loss by rejecting this possibility. I want to be “part of” and not set myself apart. But I also do not want to be frozen.

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