For the first seven years of my life I lived in a place where a train passed daily behind my house. My infant ears heard that train, unaware of what it was or why it whistled and chug-a-chug-a-rattled in the background. As a toddler and a young child, those sounds sent me into a rush of excitement and anticipation. I remember running with my brother and neighborhood kids to watch the train go by and wave to the engineer. My brother would vigorously pump his arm and the train would whistle. I thought it was magic.
Then my family moved to a house where we could not hear the train anymore. I missed it. Sometimes we traveled to my grandparents’ home in New York. They lived in a house less than a mile from the Long Island Railroad. I loved hearing the train again. I would lie awake in the middle of the night in a neighborhood with strange and unfamiliar sounds and I would hear the train. It would blow its whistle and I would smile, thinking it was an old friend saying hello. Those sounds gave me comfort and reminded me of happy moments.
Recently I moved with my husband and three kids to a home not far from the tracks. Once again, I hear the whistle and the train chug-a-chug-a-rattle down the tracks. I watch the excited expressions on my children’s faces, their eyes going wide when they hear the sounds. “I hear the train!” they exclaim, tilting their heads to listen more closely. I am blessed. I get to experience happy moments because of those sounds again. My old friend, visiting me often, still gives me comfort.