On the Train to Wilmington

When I was little I went to the airport with my grandpa. Most likely we were dropping off a family member who had come to visit for the holidays. I remember nothing of the trip except for one thing…riding the train.

The great thing about having family out of the country was that when they came to visit they always flew into the international concourse, which is the very last concourse in Hartsfield-Jackson airport. We would get to ride the train ALL the way through concourses A until the end, and for a small girl of no more than 10, this was an adventure within itself.

As the train got nearer and nearer to our end point, I excitedly watched as travelers entered and exited, always in a hurry. No one is ever not in a hurry at the airport. Everyone is always on verge of something new and exciting, and this always manages to add the slightest sprig to their step. I imagine it would be exciting to work in an airport, knowing that almost every person you encounter is in the middle of something completely out of the ordinary from their everyday life.

Anyway. We got to the last stop and I motioned for my grandpa to follow me off the train, but he in turn motioned for me to sit back down. I looked around. No one was left on the train, and the automated voice was heralding something about how you must exit now or else blah blah blah.

But my grandpa had that knowing twinkle in his eye, and I was just barely brave enough to sit back down, if only because he had never steered me wrong before, but I knew he was human too, and my anxiety only heightened as the train entered the realm which so few had seen.

I tried not to show it at first, but the farther we went I wanted almost to cry. “Grandpa this isn’t fun!.” I said. “ We’re going to get stuck back here forever and ever! Have you even been back here before? Do you know what’s back here? You don’t and we’re going to get stuck just because you wanted to go on some stupid adventure!”

But I only half believed any of this. The other half of my anxiety was fueled by excitement and the possibility of adventure. So I held my ground and waited quietly with only minimal fidgeting.

And we made it all the way to the back. And we saw all of the trains. My ten year old brain would have said hundreds, but twenty two year old me knows it was probably just a few dozen. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that I was brave, and I went on an adventure, and because of that I got to see something that I wouldn’t have.

Now I’m older and wiser and I went to the airport again, this time with both grandparents. They stayed with me all of the way until I boarded, not a train this time, but a plane for Wilmington, Delaware. And as I tried hard to look brave and hide my anxiety, I looked back over my shoulder one last time to see the knowing twinkle in my grandpa’s eyes.

I’m not going abroad or doing the Peace Corps or any of the so many exciting adventures that I could be. I suppose that leaving for the northeast for a year isn’t really something that should be that big of a deal, but I’ve decided that it’s ok that it is for me. It’s ok if it’s a little hard to stay on the train sometimes, especially when you’re not so sure where it’s going to take you.

But I’m not going to get off mine, and hopefully I’ll get to see something that I wouldn’t have.

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