The Cardinal, Train No. 51
Spring break is over and my seatmate, Tiquan, is taking the train from his home in New York City to his school in Hinton, West Virginia. He studies biology at Concord University in Athens and plays corner back on the University’s Mountain Lions football team. He had been playing for Wagner College in New York but things changed after his roommate invited him to visit Ocean City, Maryland.
Before I go on, here is a picture of Tiquan when I first sat down next to him on the train. Like many Millennials he’s plugged in and engaged with electronic devices. I sat quietly for ten minutes or so before noticing that the battery on my phone was low. I needed to reach over and plug my device into one of the onboard electrical outlets provided. Our conversation began this way:
“Excuse me. Can I plug my phone in here? My battery is low.”
“Sure, go ahead.” When he turned and smiled I could see he was of college age.
“Where are you going?” I asked. From then on we talked about college, New York, trains, football and oh, yes – the girl. He continued the story about visiting Ocean City and how he met a girl who changed his life.
“My roomate had a party. We’re all having fun and this girl walks in…” He pauses to find the right words. “We just clicked.” Tiquan’s roommate knew the girl from high school when she was a foreign exchange student from Spain. After graduation from high school she decided to stay in America to attend, you guessed it, Concord University. She is studying exercise science.
“It doesn’t get better than that,” I said acknowledging their similar interests. I felt elated listening to him talk about this incredible girl, his college life, and the brotherhood he feels with his football teammates. He made sense of it all. Some people much older than he never seem to grasp this kind of balance.
Tiquan added, “We’ve met each other’s families. I went to Spain and she came to New York. The money I save by taking the train I use for airfare to visit her when she’s in Spain.”
The conductor announced the Hinton station stop and Tiquan reached for his bag. I wished him good luck with the girl, with his studies and with the fall football season. He pulled his hood back and let me take his picture.
“YOLO,” I said. This is Millennial speak for ‘You Only Live Once.’ But I also heard it used by a grandma traveling to Cincinnati.
Tiquan laughed and left for the life ahead of him, one that makes me feel good about the future of our country.
How would you spend the money saved by taking the train?