I started my week on the 6:40 a.m.Amtrak to New York City and ended Friday on the 3:30 train back home from Washington DC a little worse for wear. It was a week in which one thing after another seemed to go wrong from little annoyances like forgetting my mouse at the hotel in NYC to the catastrophe of my daughter falling off her bike and breaking her wrist.
I’m a firm believer in self-fulfilling prophecy, and the part my attitude plays in things going wrong, though I blame a lot of what happened on a combination of folly (mine), fatigue (also mine), new brakes (the bike) and a little bit of luck, both good and bad.
Friday morning I woke to the sound of pouring rain. I was happy to be heading home, seeing Rachel and sleeping in my own bed. I even missed the cats. As soon as I finished packing I was out the door by 6:00 a.m. Dragging my suitcase behind me my travel umbrella provided little protection from the wind and rain; only my head stayed dry. The arm pulling my suitcase was drenched by the time I’d walked the two blocks to the bus stop.
The day was pretty much all downhill from there. There were numerous call-outs and a scheduling snafu, so I jumped in to help in the kitchen where everyone was working at breakneck speed despite the heat (the AC system wasn’t working) so we all worked and sweated, me most of all it seemed. Still damp from my trip in I never fully dried off. I could chronicle everything that went wrong, but why bore you with the details?
Finally, I started my journey towards the comforts of home. My Uber driver was charming and chatty; a retiree he regaled me with stories about his fares, a variety of international travelers, some local, some not, all of whom shared recommendations for the best ethnic foods in DC, and where to visit when he traveled abroad. I apologized for not being a more useful passenger.
I got to the station with plenty of time before my train, still feeling a bit soggy, cold, cranky and hungry. I stood amid the grandeur and beauty of Union Station and pondered my food options. I rarely eat cheeseburgers, but there it was, a Shake Shack, and I knew that it would provide just what I hadn’t realized I craved.
The line was long, but I waited patiently still dragging my suitcase like Jacob Marley chains. Eventually, it was my turn to order. I was tempted by the list of shakes and concretes, but I summoned up enough restraint to have an iced tea with my double stack and fries. When I finally found an empty table with room to stow my luggage I barely took a moment to contemplate the food on my tray. Though there wasn’t a healthy calorie in sight, it was just what I needed. I took a bite, then another, then I sat back and regarded my meal.
Everyone around me in the noisy station was contributing to the cacophony. I was the only person in my section sitting alone, but in that moment I felt warm and dry, comfortable and satisfied. I snapped a few pictures and went back to eating. I ate my perfectly cooked fries one by one dragging each through the smear of mayonnaise on my tray. I savored every juicy bite of my burger, chewing slowly, taking my time for the first time all week. After a week of constant rushing and trying to figure out where I was headed and how to do things correctly, I just sat there. I had plenty of time until my train, and then I would sit some more as I headed to the comfort of home. Until today when I start it all again; ideally with no precipitation or broken bones.