Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trains, Reading, Memories and Poker

I had the opportunity yesterday to take a long train ride down to the city.  I got on at the first stop and got off at the last - easy peasy - and the best part, I had a book with me!  Even better, it was not a book for work (I read mostly children's and YA literature for my job as a K-8 school librarian).  This was a book recommendation from the wonderful staff at the Lake Forest Book Store and I couldn't wait to start.  BTW - if you live even remotely close to Lake Forest, IL this store is the place to go, the staff really know their stuff and I've never been disappointed by any book they recommend.

So I sat and read The Blind Contessa's New Machine and it was heavenly, delightful, and I wish I could have finished it, but alas the train came to the end and I had an appointment to keep - no worries though as I had the journey back to finish up the book.

As I exited the train and walked with the masses out of the station, the sights and sounds and smells took me back to my childhood.  When I was in 8th grade, my mom married my step-dad and moved downtown.  My sister and I lived with my dad during the school week and on Friday nights, we took the train into the city.  My mom had given us train fare and money to take a cab to their place on Chestnut.  My sister and I quickly learned how to navigate the system and took the bus instead of a cab, pocketing the rest of the money - after all the bus only cost $2. (Smart girls :-)

As I walked up the stairs, the smell of warm, melted chocolate hit me, and I remember that smell well as my sister and I took the bus to my mom's place.  My sister and I are very close and we played many games on the train, but we also read - sometimes even sisters stop talking and need some other distraction.  Over the years, I must have read hundreds of books on that train, particularly in the summers when my sister was off at camp and I 'had' to work.  I remember one time I was so involved in my book, I missed my stop.  I looked up as the train was pulling away, there was my dad and step-mom in their car waiting for me - woops.  I got off at the next stop, and then went to the pay phone and placed a collect call to my parents, waiting for them to get home.  This was the age before the cell phone so I couldn't call them right away, but fortunately I had a really good book to keep me occupied until they finally came and picked me up!

It was a nice day to reminisce and remember where my love of reading got wings and had the opportunity to grow.  Reading has always been a nice escape and even though I couldn't wait to get back to reading about the Contessa and Turri, a day of brain buzzing work and my doctor saying to relax the brain and not read allowed me to enjoy the 'characters' on the train ride home.  Do you ever watch people on the train and think about the book you could read with some of these characters?  Well, it is fun to watch.  I happened to be sitting behind a group of 7 men who use their train ride time to play poker.  Now, I'm not a poker player and this seemed like a different kind of game, at the end of each round they asked who had low, then they said things like "scoops" and "hidden boat on the play".  I had no clue what they were talking about, I was just enjoying the 'characters'.  I wish my husband had been on the train with me, he could have written the story, as for me I just wanted to read it.

So what do you like to read on a train?  or are you a 'character' watcher?  Regardless, I hope when you got off you had a happy greeting that I did - my three boys sitting waiting for me talking about taking pictures and then my little 4 year old who stills runs into my arms calling "Mommy".

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