It is Friday night, almost 2200 hrs. I have the Virtual Railfan, LLC channel on YouTube, watching the automobile traffic go by, before a train appears. The auto traffic has that soft hum of the motors, the thunk, thunk, as the vehicles cross the tracks. There are street lights burning and, occasionally, boisterous college students make their presence known.
The AMTRAK trains are running late; I just heard a train horn, a freight, perhaps. The bright light of the locomotive captures the picture. I was wrong. It is a passenger train. Southbound, running late, but not as late as the AMTRAK website posted it as being. I can see inside the passenger coaches, the passengers seated, waiting for their trips to end, I am certain.
The experience takes me back to the times when I visited my elder son in Philadelphia, where he grew up. His mother was a physician and her practice was in the suburbs. She didn’t hate me or anything. As a matter of fact. She and her then husband found me quite tolerable, as company went.
I would take the train to 30th Street Station and a SEPTA to Abington where he lived. We would knock about all day Saturday and most of Sunday, til it was time to go back. The train ride back involved drinking pricy AMTRAK marked-up beer, watching the East Coast pass by the window, the highlight I think was crossing the Chesapeake Bay near Havre de Grace, Maryland.
Not too many years later, my second wife would go to alcoholism rehabilitation at a near by high-powered inpatient treatment facility. Political types, like US Senators, started their recovery there, along with some Hollywood celebrities. Senators (“R” or “D”) have the same crap going on everybody else has. Don’t let ’em fool ya!
Not too long after she finished rehab, we divorced and after our son grew up, we grew apart. Then she died from cancer. Some days, I dedicate my recovery to her memory, thinking, hoping she will see, from beyond the cremation urn, that I’m serious about being a better man, a more virtuous man,than the one who was married to her.
That train window memory of Harve de Grace wasn’t what I expected to surface when I started this post. I thought about my day, the satisfying water-treading session I had as I worked and loosened some tight muscles. I was not eager to fix dinner, because my muscles ached from the workout, but I did. It was not bad, grilled salmon, baked sweet potatoes, half of an avocado. My wife has been in bed with a kidney stone, so my day, apart from the workout, was looking out for her.
I find it interesting how quickly attitude can shift, from staunch resistance to getting up from my leather recliner and going to the Y, to just plain leaving without a second thought. Depression is a subtle paralysis. I think we think depression involves some high drama, like standing on a ledge, prepared to jump. But really, it’s an accumulation of little behaviors and attitudes that add up to huge self-hatred. At least that’s what it’s like for me. Breaking the cycle is doing simple little things as a matter of habit.