On the Platform


the-victorian-tiled-waiting-room-built-around-1864-on-platform-2-of-fdxee7It’s happened to me now three times, and until the first time, I had no idea how magical it would be.

You see it in films:  the train pulling in or pulling out of the station, with one character on the train and another on the platform, waiting to welcome or waving goodbye.  There’s a romance in it that’s impossible to deny.  Part of it is the train itself.  Part is how a train can take you to another place, another life (Platform 9 3/4, anyone?)platform  Another part is all about the human connection.

I live in a virtually passenger-train-free place.  If I wanted to ride a train, I could go two hours south to get the Amtrak Downeaster, and it would take me through to North Station in Boston.  This is why, perhaps, that I never pass up an opportunity to take a train when I visit the UK.  In my heart of hearts, I am a romantic, and trains appeal to the part of my nature that wants adventure–the part that wants to see myself as a character in a wonderful story.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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Worcester Shrub Hill

Back to that first time.  Take the train from Fareham to Bristol Temple Meads and change for Worcester Shrub Hill,  Roger instructed, because he’s a transportation guru and knows these sorts of things.  I almost missed the connection in Bristol, because I got off one train and the Worcester train left from an entirely different platform on an entirely different level–so I was in full Easily-Frightened-Person mode by the time I found my seat.  Perhaps that’s why, as the conductor voice on the train announced Next station Worcester Shrub Hill, and as I stood to retrieve my bag and make my way to the door I was relieved to see, on the platform scanning the cars–my friends Julia and Roger.  I saw them in the briefest of seconds before they saw me, and in that tiny bit of time came the full-scale realization:  they were looking through the windows for me, me, not anyone else.  Then they saw me, and the two of them smiled.  I’m sure I did, too, and that single moment was ours.  In it, we were the only people in the universe who mattered.

It happened again at Worcester Shrub this spring,

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John said he’d meet me under the clock, but he came right to the train.

when I came in from Banbury (missed the connection at Oxford, had to take the next train an hour later)–and there was Julia.  This time I was looking for her, because I knew what that single moment of belonging felt like.  And I got to experience it again a few days later, when my train pulled into London Paddington, and there, sidling up as he does, was John-from-Islington.  It’s a miraculous feeling, to know that, of all the people in the station, of all the people on the train, of all the people,  you’re the one:  there’s someone on that platform who enjoys your company enough to come collect you, and to make you feel wanted.

Three times.  I’m the luckiest person in the world.

Postscript:

Apropos of nothing, John was wearing the most wonderful blue wing-tipped shoes when he met me–an absolute symphony of blue, my favorite color, he was.  I followed him all over London Paddington to our tube platform and could not keep my envious eyes from his shoes.  I still can’t get over them.

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These are not quite right, but at least you get the idea.

 

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3 Comments

  1. John-from-Islington

    Oh my goodness I sidle! I’ve always wanted to sidle !

    Like

    • You do!

      Like

      • John-from-Islington

        I suspect I sidle more like Bette Midler than John Wayne though !!

        Like

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