A journey, not a destination: an afternoon spent on the light rail

His big brother had an afternoon play date, so Daniel and I decided to take a light rail ride—just the two of us.

We bought our ticket—just one for me, since he’s free until he turns 6—and boarded the train at the beginning of the line.

“This is the station I always dreamed of!” Daniel said. He couldn’t wait to get on board and pick a seat.

I thought we would go a few stops, get off, and head back. Daniel wanted to go to the end.

“The longer we go, the longer it will be on the way back!” he said.

That was true. Still, we didn’t have anywhere else to be. A mother and her daughter climbed on and sat behind us, and we started talking with them. They were going to the Orioles game. I hadn’t planned to go that far, but suddenly Camden Yards seemed like the perfect stop.

So we rode.

We took in the sights.

We talked about the tracks.

Our little boy pointed out switches and sidings and places where we remembered stopping in our car to let the light rail pass.

He noticed everything.

The light rail might not offer the most picturesque ride into this city we love, but we enjoyed seeing the buildings along the way.

We counted some broken windows on an old mill building, and admired one that has been restored for office space.

Daniel greeted people boarding the train, especially the children—and they waved back.

When we reached Camden Yards, we climbed off.

We found a vendor selling bottles of Gatorade and Daniel slid his hand into the icy water of the cooler to pick out a red one. He was so proud of himself.

As we headed back toward our train, a man on the sidewalk tried to sell us tickets to the Orioles game, which was already well underway. He had almost convinced me to take Daniel in for a few innings, when suddenly he started increasing the ticket price. When I hesitated, he said he needed the extra money for his daughter.

I balked and we walked away with our money.

On the way home, I realized he might not even have had tickets. He may just have wanted cash. I wished that if he truly needed the money, he had just asked. I would at least have bought him a Gatorade. I might have given him a little cash.

But it was too late. We were already on our way home, chatting with a boy in front of us, and switching to the opposite side of the car so we had a better view of the tracks.

Back at our station, I realized we were the only people left on the train. We climbed off and crossed the tracks in front of the train. We waved to the driver and he smiled and waved back.

“Life is a journey, not a destination,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. And what a journey it is—especially when you make time to fit in a ride on the light rail.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.