Every year, I take a Northeast Regional southbound to Charlottesville to visit two dear friends and their pair of gorgeous, sweetly neurotic German shepherds. I went once in the spring after moving to New York, but two years in the city had made me susceptible to Virginia pollen, teary-eyed and wheezing every time I went outdoors. So now I visit in autumn when the air is crisp and the leaves have just turned.
It’s a seven-hour train ride through the changing colors of the Delaware River and the Shenandoah Valley—just enough time to read the paper and shake myself of my daily accumulations. Last weekend, I sprawled out across two seats, fanning out a collection of fresh magazines and books that might have looked pretty on Instagram had I bothered to pull the cell phone out of my bag. Instead, I let its periodic, muffled pings blend into the low hum of wheels turning. I spent most of my time staring out of the window anyway, watching buildings grow smaller until they were just slight, white homes punctuating long stretches of green. You get dreamy on long train rides—you don’t waste time as much as you drift on it. Read More