I’m about 15 minutes early for my train to work, but I’m always early. I don’t deal well with rushing. Some people are habitually late. I’m habitually early.
I bypass the waiting room and head straight for the platform. It’s finally spring in New Jersey, so it’s warm enough to sit outside. I take a seat on the wooden bench. It’s the perfect vantage point to see the clock on the building across the street, which tells me I still have 10 minutes before the train arrives.
I am so engrossed in my book that the bell announcing the train’s arrival startles me. I climb up the stairs to the second level of the car. I’m sure people sit up here to take in the sights. But I’ve seen the view hundreds of times before because I took the same train every day in law school.
The 8:47 a.m. train is not as crowed because most of the commuters have already made their way to New York City. I find an empty seat and enjoy that I don’t have to share it. I hand my ticket to the conductor, and I settle back in with my book.
We make two quick stops. The tracks guide the train to the left, and the scenery turns from suburban to urban. We are in our final approach to Newark, the end of the line for this train.
Most people stay on the platform to take one last train to New York City. I, however, head downstairs to the station because this is my final stop. It’s just after 9 a.m., and the liquor store is already open. The quiet flower stand will be busy at the end of day with weary businessmen buying bouquets to bring home. There is a wide mix of people moving through the station — commuters finishing their trip to New York City, locals looking to get to their destinations, and travelers waiting to catch an Amtrak train or a Greyhound bus take them to far-off places.
I work my way to the pedestrian bridge that will take me across the busy highway. People move in and out of the shops. Starbucks is busy. But judging by the line snaking out the door, caffeine seekers prefer Dunkin’ Donuts.
Attached to the bridge are office buildings that house some of the largest law firms in the state. Attorneys head to their offices, dragging their overstuffed briefcases. That could have been me, but thankfully it’s not. I chose the path less traveled. It may not be paved with as much green, but I am all the better for it.
I’m not dressed in the standard attorney uniform. In fact, my wardrobe is the complete opposite — jeans, sneakers, and a messenger bag covered in skulls slung over my shoulder. Little do the attorneys know I edit the books that sit on their bookshelves. I revel in my secret identity.
I leave the office buildings in my dust and head out to the street. Because there is a college graduation at the arena, police officers stationed on the street corners help pedestrians safely cross the street. Ahead, I can see happy relatives and friends carrying balloons and flowers for their graduates. And for anyone who forgot, there is a clever entrepreneur stationed outside with bouquets for sale.
The graduates are already inside. Many are probably relieved their college is over, but some are sad to see it end. Some are hopeful about the future, and some worry what the future may bring. I smiled, knowing that their journeys on their winding roads are about to begin.