Once upon a time, there was a little girl. One who liked the sound of the trains late at night, the far off whistle of that train as she was all snuggled up in her little red and white bed with the red silhouettes of animals marching across the footboard.
In the day time, when there was a train crossing, she would count the cars. In those days, before seatbelts, before car seats, she would stand on the hump in the middle of the car, and lean over the front seat. She liked that almost as much as hearing the trains in the dark.
I've been doing a lot of rushing between sites, rushing to make meetings, and appointments, working late, doing things that I have never done before, worrying about whether I am doing them right. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and last week was humbling. I learned a lot though.
Last night, leaving one job site to make the hour long drive for 2 1/2 more hours of training after a full days' work, I was harried and hungry. I couldn't be late. Had to eat. Wouldn't you know? There was a train crossing. The lights started flashing. The gate started dropping. I grumbled.
And the train whistled...there were three engines. I thought, initially, "Aw, ceeerrrr-rap...this is going to be a long train." And there were more regrettable thoughts but it amused me to discover that I automatically began to count the cars (1, 2, 3...) and the thought made me remember being a child. I counted on, (22, 23, 24...) hearing the rhythmic clacking as the freight cars went by (39, 40, 41...), feeling that rocking too (54, 55, 56...)It also tickled me a little to think (68, 69...) that these train tracks were within three miles of where I'd been that little child, and that maybe the train whistle I heard at night all those years ago was echoing from this very crossing (80, 81, 82...) I found myself getting day dreamy and relaxed. (98, 99, 100...)
There were 114 cars on that train, and when the train clear, that little girl from all those years ago continued her drive.
She was eating a tuna fish sandwich much like the ones a mother would pack in a school lunch, before the days of Lunchables and the like. There would be a piece of fruit, and a cookie. No drink. They sold milk at school. Milk for two cents, a whole pint of it, white only, no chocolate, in a glass bottle with just a paper tab that pulled out, long before the days of tamperproof packaging. Sometimes you'd drop your bottle on the way to the rack where the bottles were returned. The cafeteria would get quiet and everyone would look, and you wished that you could hide...
And when that little girl got to her meeting, she was relaxed and quiet inside, and she was not late. She took a moment to come back to the present, and went to work once again.