The train goes back underground as we enter Camden NJ. That place is a den of scum and villainy that could have been a mini mirror to Philly but has failed in so many horrible ways. I’m actually glad in this moment my internet connection has gone black again as we enter Camden.
I think back on good and bad memories in Camden and will write about them at some point but that time isn’t here.
Camden is an awful place in New Jersey, but at some point I’ll tell you some stories from that once great seaport but for now I’m just passing through.
Happily locked in an extruded aluminum passenger car on PATCO.
The train once agin rises from the darkness of Camden’s tunnels and re-enters the sunshine on the this fine sunny day.
I look at all of the scenery and as the train roars east. I see all of the ghettos and shit neighborhoods below the elevated tracks. It hasn’t changed in over 40 years. I’m sitting here in a brand new train in a comfy chair, listening to Howard Stern and Christmas Carols and I’m shooting past absolute poverty below me.
What will Christmas morning be for the children in this neighborhood.
But I’m facing backwards. So I watch it all fall away from my view. By not sitting forward the sadness was never coming up… but going away from me.
See how this is working?
We roll into the Ferry Avenue stop. This is the stop where for years I would pick up and drop off of my daughter with my ex-wife.
I remember I would pick her up there and bring her to Philly when she was younger. But I also remember when I would ride the train with my little one and arrive at Ferry Ave to give her back on Sunday, I knew I wouldn’t see her for two weeks.
I was always sad on that quiet train ride back to Philly.
I feel all of that rush back into me but I’m not sad because I know at the end of the line, my daughter and her boyfriend will be picking me up and we’ll all go to Janice’s house for an amazing gathering.
The train rings and surges forward, and I watch as that sad memory fades as well and becomes joy.
Collingswood, Haddonfield, and all of the rest of the stations pass.
I can see my whole history living in New Jersey in my miserable marriage fall away from me. All vanishing down the gleaming rails.
All of it. I’ve lived in several of those towns and it’s good to see them all fall away from me and know that my daughter and I are no longer prisoners to the lie that is a domestic life so many hold dear.
I no longer have any feelings or emotions about any of that nonsense, but it’s nice to see South Jersey simply go away through a window on a train ride.
I could feel the cleanse of that moment and the exuberance of all of the wonderful people I was about to see, and where I was now in my life.
I finally arrive in Lindenwold. I don’t know this station. iI don’t care. I get off and head down the escalator and go outside. I’m listening to music and feel really good. The weather is surprisingly mild and I take a seat on a bench outside awaiting the arrival of Lorelei and her boyfriend.
I’m so happy and so filled with holiday bliss and energy I’m not even listening to Christmas music anymore. I’m listening to songs by a Swedish metal band called Angel Dust. I haven’t listened to any of that in 10 years! Maybe longer. I must be drinking deep on my dopamine.
I text my daughter that I have arrived and I think she’s a little stressed as so many young people are. She doesn’t want to keep her dad waiting. I tell her not to worry and to take her time and be safe.
I know this lovely day will unfold as it should.
I sit back on the metal bench and smile.
It’s been a while since I simply sat in the sun.
I feel it on my face and it is as comforting as my mother’s hand in mine.
I don’t know why, but I was just in such in a beautiful moment of calm sitting on this bench out in the middle of nowhere in a place I’ve never been.
I knew my daughter was coming, but I loved this moment in the morning sunlight by myself.
I felt the sun’s energy on my face. I put out my hand and felt the sun in my hand.
Sun in my hand.
Happiness in my hand.
It’s within me and right here on my face and right here in my hand.
This is my holiday alone moment.
Just waiting but not impatient. Just calm. It’s so nice. It’s never been like this.
Sun in my hand.
No problems. Just Happy Christmas time.
Maybe for the first time ever.
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