Heading toward Chicago on a Metra commuter train I didn’t notice the woman who sat down beside me until she said, “I hope you don’t feel crowded.” She had pushed a large piece of luggage toward her legs to clear the aisle. There was a Cub’s game that day and the train was packed with fans. The woman also held a small backpack. She was going somewhere beyond a day trip to Chicago.
I looked at her luggage and said, “No, don’t worry about it.” And asked: “Are you going on a trip?”
“Yes, through the Canadian Rockies on the train.” I got excited and immediately wished I was going with her. She was on her own, an adventurer, and up in years. I had to know more.
“Are you leaving from Union Station? Traveling alone?”
“I leave from Chicago Union Station on Amtrak to Montana then up to Canada. I didn’t know it’s a different train company in Canada. I’m alone but will be traveling with a tour group.”
“It’s a good year to go because they are celebrating their 150th year as an independent country,” I said. “Do you travel by train often? Have you traveled in other countries?”
“Yes. I’ve been through Europe and in India,” she said. India, I was excited again because I had just traveled through northern India. We agreed that the people there were very kind and hospitable. “I visited families and they would bring out so much food. All the relatives would gather together, cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents to say hello and wish me well,” she said. She planned her trip through a private tour company.
She wore a lightweight long sleeve plaid shirt and cream-colored slacks. Her gray shoulder-length hair was pushed behind her ears. Her green eyes were not afraid to meet mine and linger. By the way she spoke I assumed her to be an academic and asked: “What do you do for work?” She has a PhD in clinical psychology and is on staff at a nearby hospital.
I asked what her specialty was and she said she worked with adults, most suffering from depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia. I’m glad she was taking a train trip. It would give her a chance to relax and surround herself in the beauty of the landscape. She inspired me. Seeing a mature woman with a world view, committed to her career, and confidently traveling alone got me enthused about the years that await me.
When we arrived at the Ogilvie Center train station she pulled her luggage out to the aisle. It was too big to navigate easily, but I’ve learned not to advise people about luggage size. I wished her well on the journey through Canada.