Nathan’s email this morning: “Made it. All bags and persons accounted for and off the train.”
I wasn’t really worried yet it’s nice to know they arrived after their 18 -hour train ride from NYC to Atlanta where they’re visiting Karen’s family. Last time they took the train, with only one child, they’d encountered some unpleasantness; I was concerned about a repeat incident.
The journey began about noon yesterday when we met them at their apartment to assist getting them to Pennsylvania Station. Two elevator trips later, four adults, two boys, ages 2 and 5 months; the toddler car seat wrapped in plastic secured inside their shopping cart, two large rolling suitcases, an assortment of backpacks and duffles carrying food and toys, and the double stroller holding the infant car seat and the “rumble seat” were on the sidewalk.
We walked with them about 10 blocks to the subway, to begin the elevator process again to reach the downtown track. As we walked, we joked that they looked like refugees; yet acknowledged that anyone leaving home wouldn’t have so much stuff.
At 34th street, it took two elevators—a little walk between each—to reach the concourse level.
The train was half the price of flying and allowed them to bring whatever liquids they wanted, keep their shoes on and avoid body scans. They could check two bags each for free.
We sat in the waiting area until it was time for them to board, sharing snacks. When the train was called, we accompanied the family and belongings into yet another elevator that brought us to the track level and said good-bye.
I’ll meet them at the station when they return in 10 days to help with last leg of the journey home.
I thought of my paternal grandfather who left home in Eastern Europe at age 16, never to see his parents again. I thought of all the refugees around the world in various conflicts now and in the past. How they pack what they can carry, uncertain if they’ll ever return home again. I thought of my daughter, leaving Sunday, back to her new city, San Francisco. It’s always hard to see them go.