This is the part of the trip I had kind of hoped would happen — the renewal of my faith in humanity as we got to meet people from all over. It comes from — and to — my children, even without my work… sort of.
I’m generally an optimist and I believe that people have an innate goodness that the world tries to kill through violence or abuse or what have you, but — under it all — we want to be together and, when we do, it’s easy.
On long trips, this connection between people is expressed. Ask any of my old Youth Groups about ski trips, trips to Canada or D. C. and they ‘ll tell you about the bonding that happened. This trip is no different.
As I sit in my seat with my wife watching The Blues Brothers movie and see all kinds of people contributing to the story of the blessed Brothers — little kids, blind men, old men, clueless men, even a woman with a blowtorch– I look around our train car and my daughters are playing with two little Black girls who are laughing and having as much fun as little kids can have.
In front of them is a 20ish woman from the Midwest who attends a women’s college and is sharing her experiences of Shakespeare and women’s studies with them.
My wife, who will talk with anybody, talks to the little kid’s mother, who is going to Los Angeles. The conductor comes by, tells a nearby teen to look out the window instead of looking at his computer, because she’s “got one like you at home”. She passes out water and snacks to us to help us get through because the train is 5 hours late getting into Chicago. My older daughter plays games with one of the little kids on her lap. My younger one plays with the other one. They share space and themselves and a little community exists between a diverse group of people including nearly ALL of the 10 people here, for no particular reason except that they can and we’re on a trip together. Even with the technology between us, we are drawn together in potential friendship.
As I said before, I get to observe it without working, sort of. Why ? Because my wife and I have done the work that parenting required. We have wiped butts and changed diapers, settled arguments, set limits and occasionally said, “No”. We have brought them with us to church or work, read to them at night, expected good grades from them, and helped them when they couldn’t do it. We tell them that we love them when they ask and when they don’t. We introduce them to our good friends from everywhere. This was work and it still is, but it pays off nearly every day when I come home from “the mines”.
We have raised great children and are so proud of them . They make the world better at times when I can’t or don’t or won’t . They do so when I or my wife can, as well.
So here we are on a train, in the heartland of America, with all kinds of people waiting to get to our destination and we’re getting along. No, actually we’re being ourselves and enjoying each other. Ain’t America great?