I began Part 1 with a brief reference to magnets and their fields and the frequent parallels to relationships between friends, either attracting or repelling. Coincidentally, I have recently read a book that has captured my attention more strongly that any other in recent years. Titled The Depth of Our Belonging, it was written by Mary Coelho, both a scientist and a theologian. It combines and describes her knowledge of physics and mysticism in a way that eliminates the separation traditionally given to these two topics. Furthermore, its description of fields aligns powerfully, though not directly, with my sense of natural attraction or repulsion between individuals. For any who do not have a clear sense of quantum physics, this five-minute video may be enlightening:
Now, after that tangential aside, I will switch back to descriptions of some of my friends, my two ‘train friends’.
My first ‘train friend’ is Felicia, who I met standing on the platform in Beverly Farms about 35 years ago. First, we spoke briefly, slowly getting to know each other. After a couple of years, she had certainly gotten to know me. One day she called and said to me, “I have met the man for you.” She arranged our introduction, unbeknownst to him, and we have been married, mostly happily, for 31 years. Felicia remains a good friend.
Next is David, a singular friend, in that he was not from a group of friends that we shared.
Although most of my friends came to me from groups, occasionally one stands out as an individual from the beginning. This train friend is David. We met about twenty-five years ago on the train that traveled from Gloucester to North Station early every morning to take us to our jobs in Boston. David got on the train in Gloucester; I embarked about ten minutes later in Beverly Farms. At that end of the trip, there were not many commuters, so it was inevitable that we should notice each other during our commuting routines. It was not on the train, but on our twenty minute walk from North Station that we started to speak to each other, having recognized each other from the train.
Now, despite the fact that we became and remain friends, I would never have guessed that could happen. David’s presence on the train was not inviting. On the contrary, he was grumpy looking, never smiled, certainly never spoke.
It was only after some months of sharing the same walk from North Station that we sometimes began to sit together on the train. However, this was only after a stern warning from David: I must not speak to him on the train! He was the Sunday Boston Globe Magazine editor and spent his commuting time working, so he was not to be interrupted. I respected his admonition and a relationship slowly developed between us, fifteen minutes a day, three or four days a week over a year or two, as we walked and talked. Among other things, we shared stories about our spouses. His wife is Sharron, referenced in my recent blog posting, a fascinating woman with a distinguished history.
I began to describe him and his tales to my husband in the evening, eventually suggesting that we invite David and Sharron to our house for dinner, to allow a conversation with David lasting more than fifteen minutes. Paul agreed, so I presented the possibility to David the next day. We discussed it, agreeing that it might destroy our perfectly fine relationship. After he presented the invitation to Sharron, we planned our dinner. I have no memory of what we served for dinner or of our discussion, but the evening was a success. One outcome was that we made each other’s annual holiday card list, which was a coup for us, as their holiday cards and letters are certainly the most creative and entertaining that we ever receive! Of note is that shortly after (the late 90’s), I received a promotion and rarely commuted by train, more often by plane when travel was required, and generally worked from home, so we no longer shared our commute. If we had not made the transition beyond commuting friends then, our budding friendship would have ended abruptly.
We have also been included in their annual Christmas Eve party, where guests are invited to share their best pot of chili or a pie with each other. Sure, it meant we had to split the evening between their house and my cousin, Bobby’s, who also hosted a joyous house-filled party that night, but we managed to find time for both. Sadly, neither has occurred during the past two years.
And, that’s the tale of my train friends. In Part 3, I’ll introduce you to friends who I’ve met through work, my neighborhood, and my writing groups. And, maybe I’ll get back to magnets, too.
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