Monday, June 4, 2012

Strangers on a Train

Like the characters in Hitchcock's classic, I fell into an intimate conversation with a complete stranger on a train.  Unlike the characters, we did not plot murder, but instead, shared life affirmations.

The retired gentleman's name was David.  (I called him "Sir" and he explained that you don't use that term in the UK unless you're speaking to a knight.)   Although, he has lived in the UK all his life, he traveled the southwestern United States a few years before and we compared our experiences.  From Hollywood and San Francisco to the Grand Canyon and the deserts, his trip and ours covered much of the same territory.  We discussed his prior prejudices to Americans, thinking them loud and greedy, but how his journey changed his mind.  Time and again, ordinary Americans went out of their way to help him.  I was so proud that my fellow countrymen performed well!  I told of the many people we met during each of our trips and how (with the exception of French Canadian border guards) helpful they were to our family.

Next, we discussed our careers.  He spent most of his working life in customs and anti-fraud for the British government.  After retiring from a long and successful career, he wanted to give back to society and became a intermediary for the the British child welfare system interviewing parents and children in need of assistance.  Learning I taught school for 15 years, he asked about my current employment and I described our year.  His reaction gave me back confidence that was waning.  He thought our plan of spending one year of retirement with our kids "a most excellent idea."  When I confessed to my worries of pulling them so far away from their friends for a year, he pointed out that this year has given them much more than they have lost.  Having raised three children of his own and seen needy or neglected kids for years, he gave me the greatest compliment a parent can receive.  Looking at my three kids who were happily interacting and entertaining themselves, he said, "You can tell your kids know they are loved; look how confident they are."

I noticed he was reading a memoir, and without my saying a word, he suggested that I write up the details of our experiences this year into a book.  He actually asked if I had ever considered writing.  I smiled and replied, "I've thought about it."  Once or twice...

All year, I have been plagued with worry and doubt as we quit our jobs to home school and travel with our children.  I have waffled back and forth between confidence and insecurity like a fragile Broadway actress.  Normally, I am not this high maintenance, but I'm finding that changing your life can wear on the nerves, especially since learning further government budget cuts forgo my return to teaching and the security of a paycheck. Like Gandhi once said, "Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into."  While I have grown, I sometimes flashback to my adolescence and need the support of a more mature person to guide me.  I believe providence has sent me reinforcement for my faith in many forms this year... even a stranger on a train.


  1. This is already a book... if you just put it all together, it's a book... done.


    1. Thank you, Shannon, for your unending support this year! Knowing you believe in me makes it much easier. Even... Done.


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