My bottom was sore from sitting on the floor of Secaucus station, my hand burning from scrolling through my phone while it charged rather than just letting it charge. My Mega Bus which I will forever more call Mega Bust was three going on four hours delayed but I had a donut and a cold brew to appease me. The last seats remaining on the beyond delayed bus were in the way back and each time we hit a bump I flew into the air. For the first time in a long time I felt light. I met two kind souls and we talked for most of the ride which made the time accelerate. They gave me moral support as I fought for my $26 dollars back from the bus ticket. It might not be a lot of money to a corporation, but after that egregious delay and a missed opportunity to wander Georgetown at night, I wanted it back. I booked an Amtrak home and extended my stay through Sunday afternoon, hell with how much it cost. Experiences have value too.
Although the delay was a nuisance, a departure from my normal routine still felt momentous. Train stations and airports hold much significance for me because the stories unfolding there are so palpable. Soon to be companions meeting for the first time while they share a bench and bake in the heat waiting for their bus, loners running away, a soldier coming home. My bus buddy was from Baltimore, around my mother's age, and had been in Boston for a week with a special "friend". Her children hadn't wanted her to take the trip because she is terminally ill, but she refused to compromise her plan. She only told me she hoped her friend would not fall in love with her because she didn't know how long she had. Her courage astounded me, but being prone to seizures and fainting, I could see why her children would be concerned. When we passed into Philadelphia she dozed off to sleep and I leaned over to check that she was breathing. A slight scar shown on the upper part of her chest as she inhaled and exhaled.
Just around 1am I tumbled into bed, freshly bathed in hotel body wash, at the Key Bridge Marriott, where my parents and grandparents stayed whenever they visited me at Georgetown. I rose early the next morning and walked over the Key Bridge gazing out at the row boats on the Potomac and landmarks in the distance. I caught up with two dear friends, celebrated the pending nuptials of two other beloved friends, and found my way back to Georgetown for Thomas Sweet Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream and rainbow sprinkles. Not to be confused with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, this ice cream literally tastes like cookie batter and is unlike any other ice cream I have ever had.
On Sunday I visited the restaurant that gave me the life I now know, Filomena. One of the managers, Anton, greeted me as if no time passed. He only asked if James and I had children yet. Not yet I said. The cast of characters at Filomena remains the same although the hostess, like me back then, looked like a student. The menu hasn't changed, the decor hasn't changed, nor the music. The restaurant continues to do 400 covers a night effortlessly; why change a thing? I embraced a few old friends and settled in to dip crusty bread in an Olive Oil confection complete with olives and herbs. For lunch I chose the Smoked Chicken and Mozzarella Ravioli with a thick rustic tomato sauce. I didn't take a photo of it although taking photos of food is one of my great joys. The food at Filomena is not made for Instagram. It is made to be savored.
I leaned back in my seat with a full stomach to make room for my favorite Turtle Cheesecake and reflected on my brief five months of employment. In that short time I got a taste of the hospitality industry, made friends, practiced my Italian, ate too much dessert, and found the man I would marry. Fast forward to our long distance relationship, James, then an Executive Sous Chef, would call me to confirm the spelling of Italian words for the day's specials. I would send text messages back, privately wishing that I was there for one more "family" meal. I followed him back to D.C., he followed me to NJ and now we have family meals of a different kind.
I depart for the train. The bustle and magic of Union Station feels like my own Platform 9 3/4 only I have no years left at Hogwarts. This chapter isn't all that bad though.