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From Here to There


My heart was pounding as I stood at Platform 3 in Paisley, waiting for the train that would take me on the first leg of my journey. I carried a backpack on my back filled with clothes and disposable diapers and stood beside the double stroller loaded with the two girls, food, and some books for Aria. I was heading south to visit college friends (the Jennings) who work with WEC and Betel ministries down in the Birmingham area. It seemed like a good opportunity to visit this family as they’d expressed a desire to see Aria again and meet Kiera, and John would be away for the weekend on a men’s retreat anyway. So I made all the arrangements, ordered my tickets, and packed my bag. However, the night before my travels, I began to have some misgivings: Aria had a fever (which was from teething, we discovered), and I came to the realization that my ticket had an assigned seat. I had naively assumed that the train down to Birmingham would be the same as most of the trains between the towns and cities here in Scotland: a laid back set-up where you could sit where you liked and with a wheelchair car where I could simply wheel the double stroller in and sit beside it. But staring up at me from my paper ticket were the details: coach; car D; seat 58A; *mandatory*. I had no idea how I could fit myself, the two girls, and the baby car seat (that snaps onto the stroller) into one seat. I was nervous.
John took his lunch break early to see me off from Glasgow and I know that he sent me off with prayers and that others were praying for me as well. This helped, though my heart was still beating more quickly than usual. And it definitely was a challenge. I parked the stroller with the girls in one of the small lobbies between cars and made several trips down the very crowded aisle: checking where my seat was located, carrying my bags and stowing them, putting Aria in my seat, and wondering what to do with Kiera while I tried to find a place to stow the stroller. A very sweet and kind, old Scottish lady offered to hold Kiera and watch Aria while I explored and I ended up having to stow the stroller at the front of the train, which I reached by stumbling ungracefully through the first class car. The trip ended up going better than it could have though. The man across the aisle from me had an empty seat beside him and offered it to me, so I sat there with Aria while Kiera travelled peacefully in her car seat that was set in my reserved seat. It was lovely to chat with the sweet, old lady and to see the beautiful scenery from the train window.
In fact, most of the landscape on my trip was a joy to behold. My journey was filled with visions of green fields, many dotted with fluffy white sheep and their lambs; stone walls; old stone farmhouses; a grand cathedral through the train window in Durham; some ruins by the ocean of the east coast; and a bunch of enchanting street names such as Dumple Pitts, St. Mary’s Row, and Kings Heath. Mind you, not all the scenery was uplifting: there were plenty of abandoned, dilapidated buildings, graffitied trains, and large chain stores in warehouses that mar the landscape. But this is not what stands out in my memory–rather, the beauty etches itself there along with the hilarity of seeing two sheep being kept in someone’s back yard (or garden as it is referred to here).
My train down had a bit of a computer issue, which ended up delaying us an hour in total and as we left the last station before Birmingham New Street, I began to pack up my stuff to be ready. I ended up having to make three trips to the stroller to get all my stuff, and the girls, there. All of these were back through the first class car, which also happened to be a “quiet zone”, and the last trip was a frantic one with a crying Aria (frantic because I thought the train was about to stop and with a crying Aria because she really wanted to get off—who can blame her?). But we made it and quickly found my friends.
I had a lovely time with them, but in order to keep this post from getting too long I’ll simply say that it was a couple of days filled with tasty food, lovely countryside, long back yards, English accents, and the lovely women in the house where I stayed who are recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. They have beautiful hearts and absolutely loved Aria and Kiera. Betel has a wonderful ministry.
The trip home was far less eventful and stressful, though I didn’t know that it would be so and my hands were actually trembling when I was dropped off at the train station. My assigned seat on this ride happened to be in the middle of one of the cars with many other reserved seats around it: not at all convenient. So I completely abandoned it and and hopped over to the next car. Right by the door were four unreserved seats–what an answer to prayer. I laid sleeping Aria on one of them, put the stroller on the floor in front of her, and situated Kiera and I in the two seats behind her. We had a great trip and Aria enjoyed the feeling of walking up and down the swaying aisle. On our last leg the car was empty except for a group of young men at the other end who were drinking beer and singing all sorts of songs. Not ideal, you might think, but they didn’t bother us and entertained Aria when she was getting to her limit of travel time.
We arrived in Paisley at 10 p.m. and took a taxi home from the station. Our driver was a big, rough looking man with some wild red hair, a long beard, and a thick Scottish accent. He had a gentle spirit about him though. I smiled and thought how good it was to be back home in Scotland.

6 Responses to “From Here to There”

  1. Jessica
    April 30th, 2007 02:47

    rachel, i think you were really brave! and i’m glad you had such a good time while you were in birmingham! ah, the adventures of life! love you.

  2. Katie Reinhardt
    May 17th, 2007 20:04

    After a long day with my own two little ones, this post gave me inspiration and – even better – made me smile. Thanks for sharing. We miss you all. XOXO

  3. Doc
    January 17th, 2017 15:02

    I can almost smell the scent from the jasmines. Nice picture. I agree with you – blogging is concneting me with people in a way that I never expected. I do hope 2009 is more sociable and fun.

  4. http://www./
    January 18th, 2017 23:30

    While I agree with much of this, I don’t think anyone has “the right to approach any random person and have an interesting interaction”, whether at BM or elsewhere. This fails to acknowledge the discomfort that many women feel when continually approached by men who feel entitled to an ‘interesting interaction’. And ‘taking the risk’ of going in for a hug is often invasive – ask first! But generally, yeah, these are good suggestions!

  5. http://webinfomedia.info/esnai.com
    February 11th, 2017 15:44

    in the beginning let them do what they do because it was going to backfire on them and looks like it is coming to pass. Couldn't have happened to a meaner-spirited, racist bunch if you ask me. Yeah, looks like the chickens is coming home to roost.

  6. http://www./
    February 28th, 2017 16:57

    Hi, I just check out texts on your site and I became interested in the topic. I like your content and I am thinking whether I could use your words in my work? Would it be probable? If yes, please contact with me. Thanks.

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