On the Road Again

In the spring of 2012, I was back to making the 25-mile trek into Boston. It was the second leg of a new chapter for me—I had been a freelance investment writer for 15 years while our children were in school, work that was done almost entirely from home. In 2011, I went back to work full time after a two-year job search, only to have our company file for bankruptcy after I had been there only nine months. Six months later, I was back in the game. Heels, the train, and a long, structured day. The good things were there too, though—new friends, a vibrant work environment, and lots of learning opportunities.

Mike and I commuted together. We usually took the 7:14 am train out of Norfolk, and came home on the train that left the Back Bay around 5:50 pm. Typically, we traveled about an hour and 15 minutes, door to door.

As the commute became more routine, I started to notice that a lot of people tended to sit in the same spot, every day. Sometimes, I could hear their conversations. Some were annoying, some were endearing, and sometimes I actually wondered how their situations would work out. I had never met these people, but through their routine and (sometimes loud:) conversations, I felt like I knew a lot about them.

The mysterious dark-haired woman

One woman that I noticed always sat in the first seat. She got on at an earlier stop because she was always already there when we got on in Norfolk. This mystery woman had dark hair and was very quiet. Sometimes, she would talk to the person next to her but very often, she read a book or looked out the window. I also saw that we got off at the same stop when we got into Boston. In fact, one day, after getting off the train, I was about half way to work when I saw that she was a little bit ahead of me. Funny, I thought, we have such similar routes.

It happened again. I was just about to go through the door to leave the Back Bay train stop when this woman and I were side by side. “Oh hello,” I said. “I can’t help but have noticed that we’re usually on the same car of the same train, and I’ve also seen you walking the same route to work that I take. I hope this isn’t weird, but Hi—I’m Maggie.” The woman smiled at me and said, “Hi—I’m Irene.”

From that day on, Irene and I would say hello every day on the train, and wait for each other at the Back Bay stop to chat on our 10-minute walk to work. We’d look for each other at night—of course, we sat in the same seats on the same car as we did in the morning:) When Mike took a different train, Irene and I would sit together, telling each other about our days.

Eventually, we got to know each other quite well. We heard about (and sometimes met) each other’s friends and families, grabbed dinner together, and talked about the things that mattered in our lives. We remembered (and still do remember) each other’s birthdays. When our son, Brett, started commuting with us, he and Mike would sit together and I would sit with Irene (in the same seats of the same car, of course:). She became, and is today, one of my closest friends.

I often get teased about “making new friends.” Usually, they’re acquaintances—light conversations with people I’ll never see again. Mike stopped teasing me after one of our train rides home, though.

Irene and I were sitting behind Mike and Brett, when she asked me if I knew anyone who really loved golf. “Yeahhh,” I said, and pointed to Mike. “Why?”

“Well,” she explained, “I won four tickets in the lottery for the Masters and I can’t go—I’d love for someone who really liked golf to have them.”

“Why don’t you ask Mike,” I said. She did, and he looked like a kid at Christmas, happily taking all four tickets. He’s never teased me since about making new friends.

Text you soon…

My train days ended and Irene’s continued. Mike and I were still in Boston at that point, though, and Irene and I continued to text and get together. It was good practice for our move to FL.

Mike and I get back to New England once or twice a year now, usually for about a week. Most of that time is spent in CT, but we also get to Boston for a couple of days. Time is limited and we don’t get to see as many people as we would like. One person who is always on my agenda, though, is Irene. We get together for lunch, and one time I was able to ride the train home with her. And yes, she still sits in the same seat of the same car—that’s how I knew where to find her.

And when we’re 1,500 miles away from each other—Boston to SWFL? We text. Sometimes it’s before 7:00 am. She knows I’m an early riser and I know that she’s on the train. At night, we catch up on the evening commute, and on the weekends, it’s any hour that’s reasonable.

Ours is a friendship that may not ever have happened if we hadn’t had that darn commute on the train, and if we didn’t decide to reach out to each other. Thank heavens we did—she’s one of the best.

Happy travels, my friend. I’ll text soon.

Until next time,

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