I had been talking last Sunday about how I had been searching for the Christmas spirit before my sister’s annual holiday party.
All of the Christmas carols, the lights in Rittenhouse, the hustle and bustle of the season. None of it gave me the surge I was expecting.
But if you read that post, (Christmas 2018) you’d know that the holiday season had been in me all along.
What a blissful feeling it is.
My life is so simple and elegant now. I finally get it. You don’t need a bunch of stuff and events to be happy.
Live simply, and simply live.
Before the event I stopped at the liquor store. Every year I have a ritual where I present my sister Janice’s husband with a quality bottle of liquor.
I figure, I come into his home, and eat and drink as much as I want and am surrounded with all of my favorite people in the world. So give the guy a good bottle of booze!
I pick it up the night before and settle in at home after work listening to Christmas music and writing. My favorite place to be most evenings.
I’m really looking forward to seeing my whole family tomorrow.
The next morning I get up and grab a healthy breakfast. In years past I always had a great deal of anxiety when I had to travel. Just an old ailment. Usually there were several moving parts to traveling to my sister’s party. There would be daughter Lorelei, my then girlfriend Michelle. We had to pull it all together and get to 30th Street Station.
It was always stressful for me. But the end result once we got to my sister’s was always so good.
I had to get all of the tickets at a machine I always struggled with at the station. I would sometimes go out there the day before and buy all of the tickets just to take the edge off.
I always got a large bottle of water and a package of crackers just to put something in my stomach. Just nerves and anxiety and travel.
All of that is long gone.
The plan has changed. NJ Transit is doing track work and not running. (Now what do I do?) I’m not getting any younger, and my lovely daughter Lorelei takes charge and I love it.
I get the text. “Dad. Take the 10:15 train at PATCO and take it to Lindenwold, NJ. You’ll get there a half hour later, and we’ll pick you up in the car and drive you to Janinice’s house.”
I love it.
I’m finally at a point in my life where I don’t have to figure everything out and manage everybody else.
After a nice breakfast, I head to the PATCO station at 16th and Locust. Normally for a solo mission to Absecon NJ on New Jersey Transit it used to run me $40 round trip.
I enter in my coordinates into the ticket purchasing machine at the station and it tells me it will be $6 round trip!
Six bucks! It’s a Christmas miracle!
I grab my ticket and hop on the train.
It’s been a while since I’ve set foot on PATCO. They’ve replaced all of the trains with newer models! Lovely train cars. I step into one of the cars and figure out if I want to sit forward or backward.
I know it may seem odd, but that’s part of the trip.
I go with my instincts and decide to sit at a window seat and actually decide for some unknown reason to sit backwards.
It was a great decision.
I don’t travel much and I don’t know why I chose this. Normally people like to face the way they are going and so do I. That’s just normal existence. Makes sense.
Underground in the subway at 16th and Locust there’s no wifi or cell contact. So I sit in silence waiting to go.
The bell rings and the train lurches forward. I’m just chilling in the darkness thinking about all of the wonderful people I’m going to see this afternoon.
This one day a year.
This one day in time.
A party that someday I will no longer be around to attend. Just like my parents before me.
The train is traveling east and then south. It will leave Philly underground and then rise from the depths of the subway and traverse the Ben Franklin Bridge which crosses the Delaware river into New Jersey.
I always took New Jersey Transit to get to my sister’s house. But like I said, NJT is having construction done through January, so it’s down. I am taking PATCO for the first time to Lindenwold.
As the train roars up along the side of the Ben Franklin Bridge the view is spectacular. I watch my beloved city stand in the cold winter sun glistening under the blue blue sky on this Sunday before Christmas.
I love her.
I want to die in this city.
I’m happy to see her fade from my view like all of the other beautiful women in my life. Like beautiful Christmas ornaments on the tree of my life. Some are gone. Some fallen and broken, some stolen by guests and strangers.
I know I’ll be back around dusk to see her again. I’ll feel the snap in the air and the flash of her holiday season as her heart beats in every household, restaurant and chest of every Philadelphian in my city.
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