As a child, I only moved once. I lived “in” Rogersville, TN until I was 11 (the town was actually 20 minutes away.) We were out in the country, surrounded by mountains, in a small house my dad built. We were far from town, from school, and really far away from family. I remember disliking it and wanting to live in the city near Mamaw and Papaw. I felt so isolated. The neighbors were spread out, none of my friends lived near by. I wanted to live in a neighborhood!
This dream came true when we moved to the city, Kingsport, just before I entered middle school. My school was less than 10 minutes away, I could have sleepovers with friends because we all lived in the city, I could see my grandparents whenever I wanted, and we had real neighbors who we could talk to from our front yard into their front yard. I got a library card and visited at least once a week in the summer time. We ordered pizza and had it delivered right to our front door just like in the movies!! I would wake up early on trash day and watch the city workers come and empty our trash. I was an easily impressed country bumpkin. (Kingsport is a smaller city, by the way. Not a tiny town, but not the dazzling lights of Nashville either.)
Another aspect to living near civilization was that almost directly across the road was a train track. At first, watching the train whiz by right out our front windows was fascinating and exciting. Then it got old and annoying because it was so loud. And then I grew numb to it as it faded into background noise.
When I moved to Johnson City for college, there was a train track right beside campus. When I transferred to King and moved to Bristol, there was a train that cut through town and caused me to learn a number of alternative routes to avoid the track.
While the trains were loud and an inconvenience, I grew to find the sound endearing. I would stay up late studying, and the sound of the train in the distance was a reminder that late in the night, I was not the only one awake and working away. And it reminded me of home.
When I moved to Decatur, GA I was homesick. I had dreamed about leaving the Tri-cities, and to this day I am so glad that I stretched my wings and moved on. But after all the excitement of moving, starting a new life, and discovering a new city died down, I realized how much I missed home. I was trying to find my place and my voice at seminary and I was working so hard at trying to learn Hebrew, that one night I found myself unable to sleep. I got up out of bed, maybe around 1 or 2 in the morning, and wandered out of my apartment and onto campus. I found a bench on the quad, sat down, and cried. About that time, I heard the whistle of a train on tracks about a mile from campus. I sat up and just listened as the horn sounded. I stopped crying and smiled a little. I was awake late at night, but so was the conductor on the train. I wasn’t all alone, and I was reminded of home.
Now, here I am in Florida. As Andy and I were preparing to move, I wondered out loud to him if there would be any train tracks nearby. Sure enough, just a couple miles from our house, a train runs along the tracks several nights a week. It makes me smile each time I hear the horn echoing by. We have been unpacked for a while, and we are loving living here. It’s nice to have the extra touch of a nearby train track to feel at home.