The other day, I had the opportunity to take the train! I somehow grew up with the notion that no one on the west coast takes the train, so this was to be my first experience with trains. I had thought they were practically obsolete until I arrived at the train station only to be jostled by families, college kids, business travelers, and everyone with either a book, an iPod, or both.
I boarded the train and prepared for my two hour trip by choosing a seat at a table next to a pretty blond with a book in hand. Conversation was awkward at first, far less graceful than the smooth motion of the train. (I thought trains were supposed to be rickety and loud, not smooth and quiet. I could hardly tell when we slowed to a stop and took off again.)
I took a trip down to the cafe on the first level and grabbed a coffee just as we were passing the cliffs down to the ocean. I stopped at the doors and watched the ocean fly by through the huge windows. The silver sky blended softly towards the dark, swirling ocean: beautiful in its ferocity, stunning in shades of gray.
I made my way back up the staircase to my seat across from the shy blond. After offering a banana, she began to open up. She was from Washington, originally came to California to go to school and ended up staying. We talked about how I want to move to Washington, and the beautiful scenery of both our states. She takes the train often, and since it was my first time, she talked me through the experience. We shared a few laughs and it was easy to see that whatever social barrier she usually carried, she was beginning to relax. The conversation moved fluidly for quite some time and I was happy to be sitting near her.
Eventually we fell into a comfortable silence, staring at the ocean. I was reading a book as well, but noticed when she pulled out a notepad and began to compose a song from notes inside her head. She used all string instruments, cellos, violins, violas, harps, etc. It was wonderful to watch, though I hope I was subtle about it as she did seem very shy.
We both got off at the same destination, and I saw her several times afterward, strolling about the city. Each time we would laugh at each other and wave, a common bond formed over a simple train ride. It wasn't until I got home that I realized we never asked for each others' names.