It’s approximately 200 degrees outside and I’m standing on a concrete platform, mentally willing the train to come. It works; in the distance, I see it snaking toward our station. It rolls to a stop and, like the good sheep that we are, my fellow commuters and I pile on.
It’s a bilevel train and I inevitably head to the lower tier (I’m not sure what that says about me). Sometimes, I selfishly sit in the four-seater so I can spread out. Other times, I’ll grab a window seat and hope nobody sits next to me. A good, forceful timed cough can help keep away unwanted guests. That, or talking to yourself.I’ve been taking NJ Transit nearly every single day for the past eight years. And every single day, it still feels like a little slice of heaven. No, I have not inhaled too many fumes. Nor am I pleased with NJ transit’s dismal track record for punctuality (on my line, anyway). That part drives me nuts, as it does every other commuter; there’s a reason I’ve referred to NJT as No Jersey Transit. But when the trains are pretty much running on time, I have a really happy ride.
For a while, every morning I sat with a funny, raucous group of people; we’d laugh so loud, we’d get shhh-d. But eventually, I started feeling anti-social. My train time is the only quiet time I have during the week. I leave my house, with its breakfast chaos and a five-year-old shouting “I WANT A NEW BACKPACK,” and I take the train to a more sane state of mind. I prefer the Greta Garbo commute: I want to be alone.
And so, I grab a seat and do my own thing. Sometimes, I read the New Yorker. Sometimes, I’ll open my planner and see what the day or week holds. Sometimes, I’ll just gaze out the window, looking at nothing in particular but thinking about everything. I try really hard to resist the siren call of my BlackBerry. Last year, I went to a time-management seminar, and the woman cautioned us against reading e-mail during our commute. By the time you get to work, she said, your brain is already addled and potentially anxious; you won’t reap the benefits of having a fresh, ready-to-face-the-day state of mind.
My commute home is a little busier; I try to wrap up work and odds and ends so I can be present for the kids, not distracted, and then have time after they’re in bed to talk with my husband and do some writing. The passage from work to home is just as relaxing as the one from home to work, and even more so because of the anticipation of what lies ahead: My little girl saying “MOMMY’S HOME!” when I walk in the door, my son smiling at me gleefully.
If I had to work at home, I don’t know what I’d do without this commute. The train may never be on time, but it sure does keep my sanity on track.
This is an original post to JerseyMomsBlog by Ellen Seidman. Ellen blogs daily at Love That Max.
Photo credit given to Christopher Gore.