...and so it went on, the clacking sound of wheel against rail, grinding mile after mile. Outside the small window lie of blanket of frozen white as far as the eye could see. A seemingly endless carpet of untouched snow...mile...ka-duh-thunk....after mile...ka-duh-thunk....
We boarded the train at exactly midnight. It was very Casablanca-like as billows of steam wafted up from grates in the sidewalk as we slowly approached the tracks. Our apprehension must have been evident. Here we were, in a foreign country, being placed on a train in the middle of the night with no one to translate along our 31-hour journey. It was the dead of winter in Moscow, Russia and we were going to meet our son. They could have told us that train was bound for Jupiter and we would have still hopped on (proof still that hope can get you through just about anything.)
In our little passenger cabin, we were either too warm, too cold, hungry, sleepy or too tired and anxious to sleep. Ill-prepared for this surprise mode of transportation, we boarded the train with a small bag of clothes, no books or snacks and a couple of styrofoam plates of meat and cheese we had purchased in haste near the train station (that we kept refrigerated by pressing them up to the window glass).
But what I remember most--even more than the uncomfortable bathrooms and thick black coffee swimming with coffee grounds--was the rhythmic drumming of the train as it ambled along the tracks. 900 miles of a slow, persistent rumbling...often lulling me in and out of a dreamlike state. We did finally reach our station and disembarked, hand-in-hand, to go and meet our new child.
Why do I remember this so vividly tonight? Well, hubs and I took D. to Stone Mountain for their Christmas Village. We ate yummy soup in a warm bread bowl, gawked at beautiful trees wrapped with a blue gazillion tiny little light bulbs and saw The Polar Express in 4-D complete with snow pouring from the ceiling...an effect that caused such delight in the life of my five-year old, hard-to-impress-anymore son that it brought tears to my eyes.
But, to cap off the evening, we took the train ride around the base of the mountain. We chose the outdoor train car and snuggled up as a threesome to look at the scenery as the train slowly made its way through the park. At one point, the slow ka-duh-thunk, ka-duh-thunk of the train transported me back to the winter of 2004. The cold, crisp air blowing on my face took me back to that frozen countryside we viewed mile after mile. Only this time, I glanced over beside me and found a wide-eyed little boy singing the "fa-la-la-la-la" chorus of Deck the Halls....having the time of his life.
Tears filled my eyes again as I realized the symbolism of the moment.
Here we are, days away from meeting our new son and we're sitting on a train, in the cold listening to the all-too-familiar sounds of wheel against rail. We are now a party of three, anxious and waiting...eagerly anticipating what lies ahead in the unfamiliar territory of a family with more than one child.
But we're together...and we're nearing the station where we'll get off, hand-in-hand, and venture towards our new life and the newest member of our family.
It's a worthwhile journey indeed.