It’s too many bags to take on the train, I know, but I’ve got three that I carry with me…every other weekend. The damn tan duffel that I stole from my Dad, my work bag and my other work bag. Every other weekend, it’s the same story. I ride the train for an hour and ten minutes, my three bags taking up the seat next to me, Facebook timeline scrolling in front of me on my dying phone, some stranger sitting too close. Some smell too rank.
And every time I make the trip, the fear and anxiety builds deep down in my gut. By the time I hit Peapack, I’m almost in a flop sweat. I hate staying at my home. My old home, really. I have an apartment near work in New York. I left after my husband was awarded the kids. It was the right choice. I fell just like a lot of people in my family fell before me, something I hoped I’d avoid. I had one too many fancy cocktails and drove the only car we had straight into a tree across the street from some Diner on Route 22. My kids were in the back.
Back then, we only had one car between the four of us, so my husband, ex-husband now I guess, had to borrow the neighbors car to come take care of our kids, which were fine. I was in the hospital for a week. Broken leg. Broken Collar bone. Concussion. We were divorced within 3 months, and the court awarded sole custody to my husband. It was only his pity and still powerful love for me that made him concede visitation rights. So I get to go back home every other weekend to see my son and daughter.
That was 3 years ago. My daughter is now 8. She still remembers that night and a number of nights before that. My son just turned 4. He forgave me within a few weeks. It’s Samantha’s look that I fear the most. My husband’s look is one of pity. My daughter is afraid of me, afraid of what I was, and, I think what she may become.
But every other weekend, I pack my duffel with a few changes of clothes and fill my other work bag with a more comfortable pair of shoes and a few toiletries (I’ve never needed much). I lay on the couch in the house I helped pick out, and I hardly sleep for a few nights. But I show up because I think that’s the only way I can ever make amends to the little girl that grew in my belly, the little girl that looks just like my father and is just as quick to anger.
I show up, because that’s the one thing my father stopped doing.
On the Train – Where I envision the inner lives of my fellow commuters, completely unbeknownst to them. Every now and then, they might catch me staring a bit longer than makes them comfortable, but I’m just coming up with their backstory (Although I admit that’s about the same amount of creepy).