I've been commuting back and forth to Philadelphia a lot in the past few weeks, working at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts.
It's been great on so many levels - great to re-establish myself there, to get to know all the new people and changes and systems with the school now. Wonderful to feel the energy of the place, and to drink in the sight of so many wonderful people teaching and training. When I leave the school at night, I leave reluctantly, wishing I could just stay there to see every part of it.
I have long since accepted, though, that PSCA is a wheel turning without me; and I will jump on whenever I can, to help when possible, and sometimes just for the joy of it. But I can't be part of everything there now. The truth is, it's grown big and complex enough that even if I were still in Philadelphia, I couldn't be part of everything there now.
Anyway, commuting has its own joys as well. Although I don't dress the part - PSCA is a strictly wear-whatever-the-hell-you-want kind of workplace, and the "real" Amtrak Northeast Corridor commuters are more the business-suit-and-briefcase type - I enjoy joining in their ranks for a little while.
I am a big people-watcher, and commuters are fascinating. In the early mornings, a common sight is a well-suited young man, coffee and briefcase in hand, racing to catch a train with his tie tossed over his shoulders. I never knew that men left the house like this, planning to properly tie their ties once they are seated on the train (obviously I have never been married to a man who wears a tie to work). But then I found this Urban Dictionary link, which suggests that this is somehow a fashion statement of its own! Hm.
People on the trains are endlessly fascinating. The guys in full army fatigues getting off at the Pentagon station. Mothers herding children in school uniforms. Young, nervous-looking women in pencil skirts, professional-looking blouses and high heels, glued to their cell phones. People who look like they are on their millionth train trip and they are bored by the whole experience, and people who are stepping onto the train for the first time and trying not to look completely lost.
While I people-watch, I daydream and speculate about their lives. Maybe the VIP in the hip, untied tie is zipping up to his Wall Street job for the week, while his diplomat wife logs hours on Capitol Hill, and their children are shuttled around by top-notch nannies. Maybe the heavy guy in the tired-looking suit is actually laid off but is pretending to go to work every day so his family doesn't find out. This evening I sat next to a woman chatting on her phone about her upcoming appointment with an esteemed elderly violin master, who she is studying with so that she can pass along his wisdom to her high-level violin students in New York. Last week, behind me, was a man with his three-year-old daughter. He was taking her up to Philadelphia to watch a baseball game, and showered her with attention for the entire trip. As I said, people are fascinating, and I love these little glimpses of their lives.
Coming home this evening though was the most gratifying part of all, as the children leapt into my arms as though it had been months, instead of only two days, since they saw me last. Missing them, and being missed, is a good and refreshing feeling, reminding me of all that I have here.