One of the pathetic stipulations I had for a college besides:

1) not advertised on television

2) offers stuff-n-things OTHER THAN A degree promised to allow me a career in an exciting technical field

was that I could access it by train.

See, for all the awesomeness that is St. Charles, it’s fucking impossible to get to or from. It’s not by any convenient highways or byways, but it’s not quiiittee far enough away from anything that whining loudly that ‘it’s too faaaarrr‘ will get you anywhere. Besides a hefty roll of the old eyeballs. The benefits from a cost/benefit analysis show that without a doubt, this is The Best Thing For Us All, so we deal with these minor annoyances.

Obviously using the haunting good grace that I am known to handle everything else with (read: no grace whatsoever).

But back then I also lived it St. Charles, only un-hipply (not un-hippIE because that would be weird) with my parents and my one-year-old son, The Benner. And I was in dire need of figuring out What To Do With My Life. After some teeth-gnashing and a good hard look at my future, I chose to get my undergrad in nursing at a college about 40 minutes away.

Also (and most importantly) it was on the train line. I’m not positive that if I’d been promised truckloads of cash driven to my front door by pursuing my undergraduate degree in underwater basket weaving, I’d have done so if I’d had to commute by car.

So, train it was! Hooray!! Bonus! Win-Win!!! Hooray!! Everyone wins!!! Yay!!!!

(note the flagrant use of exclamation points to really drive the point home. THAT’S how you know I’m serious.)

Except, hahaha, not so much. Turns out that wasn’t what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Because I’m still waiting to find out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. I’m not sure if this–like my ability to single-handedly lose my wallet 47 times an hour–is something to be proud of of.

I did ride the train every day, to and from school, and while I was initially irritated by that mandatory time stuck doing jack squat, I learned to love that part of my day. There’s something kind of romantic about being on a train. I guess it’s partially a throw back to The Olden Days–and let me assure you that most of the train cars in service today really are from those days–and partially just, I don’t know. I sort of feeling like I’m Really Traveling if I’m on a train.

And as time passed, I made a number of friends who rode the train with me. We’d study, or shoot the shit, or just be blessedly still for half an hour. These included some of the people in my classes and even a couple of my science professors. I’d gone from feeling like a total Failure At Life to having an identity of my own.

I was an over-achieving student, top of my ever-loving class. I became. TA for the upper level sciences. I had friends. I had something I could now identify myself as and be proud of.

I look back on that time and smile. A genuine smile, not an ironic or bitter one.

I took the train into the city on Wednesday at the ass crack of 6PM after I hadn’t been on one in at least three years. I can assure you that nothing, NOTHING has changed. Same strawberry-urine scented urinal cake smell, same entitled passengers*, same sweat-stained windows.

(*Back when I took the train 5 days a week, I was always sure to pick up a copy of their monthly newsletter. While I flagrantly ignored the boring stuff about safety and other stuff that I wouldn’t know what it was because I never read it, I always giddily ran for a copy when the new ones came out.

Because on the back of this, was a page of pure gems. The company would reprint some of the Letters To Someone Who Pretends To Give A Shit and they were comedy gold. Honestly. They really should come up with a book of these sorts of letters because seriously, they were that good.

Amidst the people complaining about delays and ice and those horrible rude people with suitcases who take! up! 2! seats! (this person, in her letter, referred to those people as “Piggy People.” Because how DARE someone need to use a SUITCASE!), was nestled my personal favorite. I will try to paraphrase it for you.

Dear So-And-So,

Here’s what makes me REALLY mad!!!! Those people who leave behind the newspapers after they’ve read them, so that other people can read them!!! That’s nice and all, but you know what? I am SO MAD when I see that they’ve completed the crossword puzzle!!!!!!

Signed,

I Am The Most Entitledest Person Ever!!!!!!

I mean, the NERVE of someone who spent THEIR money on a paper to actually put INK to the paper! They obviously should have graciously left it blank for you, oh person who is too cheap to buy their own paper.

Bwahahahahaha! *wipes tears from eyes* Bwahahahahaha!

You just can’t make this shit up.)

Well, The Internet, it turns out you CAN go home again.

After I wrenched myself away from a screaming Alex, and hauled my bag up those stairs again, it was like stepping into my old life. I half expected to see my grody red suitcase (note to self: buy cooler suitcase) turn into an Organic Chem book, my iPod to gain 3 pounds, and the spare tire in my gut to melt away.

But there I was. Seeing myself back 6 years ago. When my son was my only baby. When I wasn’t married. When I had a job, a waistline, and a completely different life. I’d never heard of a blog. Never considered that I might actually house a wanna-be writer in my wanna-be scientist body.

And look at where I ended up. Never thought I’d be where I am, never in a zillion years. I’m not sure I’d have believed it if you told me. No, I take that back. I am absolutely CERTAIN I would have laughed in your face had you told me where I’d end up.

I stay home. I write. I have three fucking kids. I write. I fantasize about sleeping and about wearing pants without elastic bands. Although, I should add, I do not fantasize about sleeping WITH pants without elastic bands. I drive a mini-van. An UGLY GOLD mini-van.

Everything is different and somehow nothing has changed.

Et tu, Internet?

Comments

comments

31 thoughts on “Bad Girls Gone…Good?

  1. I am definitely not where I thought I would be 10 years ago either. In fact, I’m not where I want to be, I guess I’m a work in progress. It is fun to look back at how innocent my dreams were, and know now that things never work out like you think they will.

  2. I agree that there is something wondeful about the train ride. I used to take the train to & from Manhattan (1.5 hours each way) and damn I could plow through books like nobody’s business. Now I long for some of that “not so quiet” yet relaxing time. I could do without the loud talkers or the smelly breath open mouth sleepers who inevitably end up on your shoulder but I did enjoy that time alone. And train friends – they were the best. Thanks for the flashback.

  3. When I graduated from high school, I thoughtby now I’d be living in NY City or some other glamorous place, maybe with a law degree, or some other high powered, high paying job. No kids (I don’t like kids), no husband (no one to tie me down). Turns out that NY City is really some dinky little town in Maine (same one I grew up in), and no kids meant twins at age 19. High powered, high paying job meant a glorified receptionist because I never finished college and I’m not qualified to do much else. No husband meant married twice because I’m a glutton for punishment.

    At least I don’t drive a mini-van though.

  4. I too love trains. Somehow they’re just a little magic.

    You know, 10 years ago I thought I’d be (and wated to be) where you are now. Married, either home with the kids or as a teacher and home for the summer etc…but I wouldn’t trade my life now (as up and down as things are) for that…I’ve lived too much in the last 10 years that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And that’s ok too.

  5. There are many times when I look back on the me from years before and can’t believe that I am the me that I am today. My teenage self would probably laugh hysterically at the irony of it all, if I knew what irony was back then.

  6. Ditto! Who ever thought the little southern baptist girl would grow up to be mama to three and the love of my life would be a girl, or that I would work in a prison?

    I can hear teenage Becca cackling with glee!

  7. Strangely, I kept going back to the same area over and over in my life. I seem to have broken the cycle for now – or else, I’ll be back there in 2 more years. I can’t predict the future, but I am good at seeing patterns.

    Anyway, I graduated from high school, and then went to college in Denver for two years. Then I came back and attended the University right next door to my high school. Then I worked for a pharmaceutical company for ~4 years, got a job, trained in the wilds of southern IL, and started working at the location that is less than a mile from my high school and university (not to mention 4 blocks from the dorm where my sister lived while she was in dental school). This wouldn’t be odd in any small town, but this happened in Chicago!

    But then, I moved 300 miles away, and the priest at the local church was my brother-in-law’s friend (who married my sister and brother-in-law), and my mom’s friend’s daughter lived one block over from me. So sometimes you can revisit home and sometimes home follows you around.

  8. It’s pretty amazing how fast your life can change. I was a NYC commuter for a couple of years and I’d be lying if I said I missed anything about it. But I certainly do love hopping on the train to go to the city for a play or shopping or dinner out. That’s fun stuff. The romance of the daily commute is SO VERY lost on me. I have far too many horror stories to tell.

  9. This is really thought provoking for me, I can’t really remember. . . I think I had two options – one, stay single, move to a big city, work for a big law firm, have really great shoes, etc.

    The other options was more of a “The Cosby Show” family – but that was obviously much more down the road than just 10 years. . .

    So I don’t know. Strang.

  10. Trains are romantic. I agree.

    I’m glad looking back made you smile. Somehow thinking about the past always makes me a little bit sad. Even if I am remembering a happy time. I think it’s because I can’t go back, even for a minute and that seems so final. I’m scared of finality in most forms.

    I’m glad you are getting a break and having fun.

  11. When i was in high school i rode the train (subway but we called it a train on the east coast) into downtown as I lived in the burbs. It transformed me. I met so many train friends, knew where they got on and off and spoke simple short pleasantries. Then there were the people who got on and off, but we never spoke. We made eye contact like “yeah i see u everyday, but no i will not start a conversation…” There was one man, looked to be in early 30’s suit and briefcase everday, clean and sharp. I imagined he worked in a bank or was a investment broker and always wished he’d say something to me. LOL i was 16 and yeah right. But i still remember his eye contact with me, seems he was talking without speaking…. trains thanks for digging up those memories I almost forgot about.

  12. I was going to be an over-achiever all the way. MBA, consultancy, sowing my wild oats until I was at least 35. I’m sure I’m happier this way, though. And I never did regret getting all those degrees.

  13. Taking the kiddos on their first train ride tomorrow. Something tells me they won’t find the North Shore Train so romantic…

    And I am not anywhere near where I thought I’d be just three years ago.

  14. Oops, I haven’t read your blog in a few days – just caught up with 4 days of posts. I’m kind of traumatized by the picture of you in the wedding dress – as my mother would say “do you want your face to freeze like that?” – even though you tell us you’re a kinder, heavier Aunt Becky now. I’m going to take that image to the grave, I know…
    Ok – time to say something relevant now. Is relevant spelled this way or that way – relavant? Perhaps I could use the word meaningful instead of relevent…
    If I knew how much time I’d be spending writing, I would have studied harder in English and also Spelling. So there!

  15. “I stay home. I write. I have three fucking kids. I write. I fantasize about sleeping and pants without elastic bands. I drive a mini-van.”

    me too

  16. I stay home. I write. I have three fucking kids. I write. I fantasize about sleeping and pants without elastic bands. I drive a mini-van.

    this is me but with only 2 kids

    if you had said “this will be you” to me as recently as 10 years ago I would have laughed and then hurt you when I realized you were serious. I had not particular place I wanted to be, but I knew it was not here.

    Then I changed my mind.

  17. I never thought I would live outside of the Indianapolis area. Never wanted kids. Didn’t think much about getting married.

    And now I’m married, with two kids, in another f*ing COUNTRY.

  18. Pouting…I’ve never been on a train. Ten years ago, I was divorcing my ass of an ex-husband. I figured I would die alone, never have the children I dream of and have to live in a cardboard box. Now, I have a fabulous husband, 3 kids and a totally non-cardboard house. But I still want to ride on a train.

  19. “I fantasize about sleeping and about wearing pants without elastic bands. I drive a mini-van.”

    How about less laundry and dishes and picking up and and and? One day.

  20. It’s amazing how something that at the time was so mundane can have such a strong imprint on your future.

    And you may still be searching for what you want “To Be” when you grow up, but the good news is you’ve marked something off that list! Only 8.5 million more options to check!

    Although you’re doing pretty good at the mom and wife thing.

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