January 2000

My name is Paul and I'm 18. I live in Michigan, but I attend college in Pennsylvania, where I'm a freshman. (My by-line said something different last time) I love getting e-mail; you can reach me at alec689@hotmail.com. This is my second article. Although my articles are primarily written in a fictitious style, they all come from real experiences and emotions; in other words, its me you're hearing about-not a fictional character. So here goes my second article/story/writing/whatever...


There's nothing worse than being stuck on a train that's not moving. Trains are the physical embodiment of speed and power. Whether skimming the fields of Kansas, boroughing through the Rockies, or dashing up the eastern seaboard, trains always equal fast -- well, almost always. I was stuck on the Northeast Direct on some piece of rail between Philadelphia and Boston-or NOT traveling as the case was. I guess that being stagnant has always bothered me.


As I got off the train, a cold, northeastern chill made goosebumps crawl over my legs and arms. I rushed to the terminal. Looking around, I didn't see my friends, V or CK1 who were supposed to meet me there. We were returning to our boarding school for cross-country league championship races; as my parents and I had slowly grown apart, I became closer to my friends, especially V and CK1. Standing watching the flipping, whirling, arrival/departure board, a small pair of Asian hands reached from behind and covered my eyes. CK1. I wheeled around, and there she stood. Exchanging the typical first meeting phrases, we found a table and waited for V. In her usual style, she appeared silently from almost out of nowhere and said, "hey guys." We proceeded to catch a red line train to meet other friends, including my former roommate, Jantos. My thoughts, however, were already on the next days events-I was going home.

The alarm went off at 8:45-this wasn't going to be the weekend to sleep in. We took the commuter rails as far as we could, and then used Jantos's car to drive the rest of the distance to our boarding school. Four hours later, we headed down familiar Joy Lane, abutted by faculty houses and rolling fields. Slowly the school came into view. As beautiful as I remembered it, the green, manicured playing fields still sloped down to the small, rambling Nashua River. The mountains stood out in the background, and the overly blue sky and yellow sun made the entire scene look as if someone had painted it. The red, brick colonial buildings of my former life seemed but an eerie remembrance of things past, and as Jantos's car rolled down the entrance to the athletic complex, the normal feeling of being home didn't hit me as it had in former years. The next five hours were filled with talking to old acquaintances, watching four cross country races, and general reminiscing about the four years that we had spent playing, studying, and living in that idyllic setting. But as the day wore on, Jantos and I became tired, both physically and mentally. Pulling CK1 away from her former crush, Jantos, V, and I walked slowly back to the car, watching the sun set slowly over the mountains and cast the once-familiar shadow over the center of campus. As we pulled out of the hallowed gates, the phrase spoken to us on graduation echoed in my ears: "You are leaving Choate, but Choate will never leave you." I had, indeed, left my school, and now, only fragmented memories remained from what seemed like an eternity. I guess letting go has always scared me too.


On the train back to Philadelphia, I bought a package of M&Ms. I sat there eating them one by one, looking out the window. I was letting go, but still grounded, stagnant. Although the infrastructure of my school proved comforting, it was my friends with whom I spent hours chatting, goofing around, and generally reconnecting. Sometimes it's good to let go; sometimes its good to hold on. My train got me back Philly without any major problems. For some reason I didn't feel that I was either returning to or leaving from home-and that was fine.

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