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  • Chrissy Carpenter

The Tracks

When I was younger and lived in New York, we would go visit my Gram for holidays and sometimes in the summer too. At the time it always seemed that the four-hour trek to Pennsylvania took forever. But then again when you’re a kid, anything over 45 minutes is an eternity, and you had no qualms letting the parental units driving hear all about this eternal time spent in the car. There would always come a point in the drive though, when my siblings and I knew that the arrival to Grammy’s was imminent- the train tracks. In fact, this train track crossing became so momentous that whichever kid was awake as the train tracks would approach, would rouse the others. I knew the landmarks so well my mind would automatically start to say “make a right turn, make a left turn, big cement walls, then… train tracks!!!” The ‘train tracks’ were always an audible declaration.

Thinking back now I realize what those train tracks really stood for. They stood for comfort, they stood for entering through the back screen door, they stood for my Gram’s glasses-framed face. They stood for her round white kitchen table that always had chips and sandwiches at lunch. The train tracks even stood for climbing trees which had my Gram’s beloved “posies” underneath, to which we surely would be scolded for climbing. As I got older, we moved around a lot and eventually the path to Grammy’s house became varied and different, and we didn’t have to cross the train tracks anymore. There was still comfort and familiarity with going to her house, but the excitement of the train tracks were gone, reduced to a warm memory.



This recollection got me wondering if that savory excitement that I believe most of us encounter as kids when we have a reoccurring experience; well, does it happen much as adults? Perhaps our adult recurring experiences don’t inspire as much excitement and awe as our child ones because when they happen our minds are thinking of all that needs to be accomplished, or what new activity might one have on Social Media? Or maybe it’s as simple as we aren’t taking the time to create these experiences.

As all these notions were existing in the back of my mind, something happened to me. In the beginning of August, I took a trip with some kids who are quite near and dear to my heart; to Coronado Island in San Diego. We go on this trip usually once a year, and there is a very large and looming bridge connecting San Diego to Coronado that must be scaled. This bridge has always slightly terrified me with its dizzying height, and giant curvature. Every time we cross the bridge I think extremely positive thoughts that a massive, or even minor, Earthquake will not make its presence known. This year, as we were quickly approaching the bridge I most definitely was thinking those extra positive anti-earthquake thoughts. But before I realized what was happening, I had turned to the kids in the car, shaken the headphones off of them and exclaimed, “The bridge, the bridge! We’re almost there!”. There it was. There were my ‘train tracks’, in all their glorious awe-inducing adult form. And you know what those kids did? They took out their smart phones, rolled down the windows and started filming the ascent, and said, “We always know when we’re almost there because of the bridge!”

It still exists. The excitement and awe I once had still exists as an adult, and it was all captured right there on a smart phone. Thanks kids for helping me see it’s still present, and if I ever forget again, we’ve always got your iPhone video to help me remember.


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© 2023 by Chrissy Carpenter.