Back on the Train
Simon worked for Amtrak and loved it. He operated the cafe car on board the train for four years and we would ride with him a few times a year. I have been gearing up to ride the train again, as part of the emotional healing process. Today was the day.
It was intentional.
It was cathartic.
It was really, really wonderful.
Two of my dearest local girlfriends, A and A, came along for support. One of the A’s has been my friend since childhood. The other A came into our lives last summer, but it feels like so much longer. Both A’s walked alongside us during Simon’s illness, constantly providing practical and emotional support.
I drove his car, his speedy little hatchback, knowing it will be sold soon. We parked and rode from the Fullerton station. It rained last night – it hadn’t rained since the night he died – and the weather today was spectacular. Gorgeous blue skies with bright, billowing clouds. Days like this make all the traffic, crowds, and high taxes of California worth it.
I was certain I would just fall apart once the train pulled in to the station. As it approached, I realized it was the one train configuration that Simon hated. Amtrak rotates a few old single level cars that are difficult to operate and less aesthetically pleasing than the updated equipment. It made me smile, thinking of him grumbling about the mechanics and inefficiencies of those older cars.
Once on board and settled, we made our way to the cafe car, for drinks and for closure. I didn’t recognize the attendant but after some small talk, we discovered that he was in the last training class Simon ever taught. He had nothing but kind words to say about Simon’s impact. Hugs and tears all around. Once back in our seats. word got around to the crew. Mimosas and snacks were delivered to our seats. More coworkers came by with stories and sweet words. I couldn’t hold back the tears, but it was the good kind. The kind that warms your face and makes your heart feel full.
Our stop was San Juan Capistrano. The station is in the Los Rios historical district near the Mission. It’s idyllic. There are converted houses offering gourmet brunch, tea time, coffee, and shopping. There’s also a park, petting zoo, and decent public restrooms. Pretty much the perfect place to spend an afternoon with friends. We wandered for a bit and settled on a small coffee shop that roasts beans in-house and serves homemade almond croissants.
We lingered over warm and cold caffeinated beverages and reflected on the morning. We also made a fun little secret pact. I would tell you but then it wouldn’t be a secret. Girl time is THE BEST.
We sat in the cafe car for our return trip. We took in the beautiful scenery and agreed it had been a successful, satisfying day to remember a well loved man and to make the next step in the journey.