Thursday, June 6, 2013

Met a stranger on a train....

I took the Amtrak up the Southern California coast recently on a Sunday morning. The views are incredible. You practically brush the sands and surf spray of the Pacific Ocean on the way from San Diego north to the Central Coast if you ride the entire route. I got on in Solana Beach and rode as far as Moorpark. In San Clemente the train makes a stop at the San Clemente Pier. How cool is that! Amtrak delivers you right to the doors of the restaurants and shops on the pier. That would make for a great day trip.


The train makes a turn inland and heads for Union Station in L.A. and then winds through industrial areas and on to the expansive rolling hills and farming plains of Ventura County.

A woman got on the train in Anaheim and asked if she could sit next to me. I welcomed her and soon we were engaged in conversation. We are about the same age. I attended high school in her town. She attended the rival high school, but her cousins went to my school the same years I was there.

Over the next hour she told me her life story.  I learned about her parents' immigration to the United States and how glad they were to be in the Land of the Free! She talked about her ethnicity and the complexities of relating to this new generation of immigrants. She considers herself an American, proud to be who she is but not needing to hang on to the ways of her parents' homeland. She's been married twice. There were misty eyes as she told me about her first husband's death and the things he said to her son before he passed away. Then she talked about her second marriage and how grateful she is to have been married twice to fine men. Her life wasn't easy. She worked multiple jobs at once, was a struggling single mom for a number of years, but she never gave up.

I departed the train first. She was going on to another stop. I couldn't help thinking about my time listening to this woman's story. She shared very personal and poignant things with me....someone she sat with on a train for an hour. Her story is something that will stay with me for a long time. Her experiences were remarkable and I'm glad she shared them with me.  Interesting how an hour with a stranger on a train can be such an enriching experience.

Amtrak photo:  Matthew Bamberg - Dreamstime.com
Pier photo:  Sheryl Bullock