I grew up about a block away from the railroad tracks. On summer nights especially, I distinctly remember my window open welcoming the cool night air, and hearing the train horn blow in the distance. Harry’s office is right by railroad tracks too and he has told me how hearing them reminds him of those days he spent as a kid at his dad’s office which was near the ones I remember from so long ago. There is something about trains. Something about the sound of that horn in the distance that as a student of American history revives a deep nostalgic hope for progress.
While some grown men spend a great deal of time and money building miniature trains on tiny tracks dreaming of what other men did, Harry is riding a real one he’s been building himself. He’s got a product, a plan, the knowhow, and the drive. He’s on it, and he’s been on it for over 18 months. And he’s starting to get sick of the ride. Train rides are stinking slow and long compared to planes. Why didn’t he pick a plane? Like the Concord! The poor guy knows where he’s headed, it’s just a matter of feeding that engine with the right amount of coal to keep that train chugging away in the right direction.
I’m in love with a man who wakes up around 1 AM every morning to get a jump on his day. When I wake up around 8 AM he’s already worked what most people would consider a full work day. By noon he takes a lunch break and returns for more until 5 PM. 16 hour work days are common for him. They have been common for him for a long time. Over a year. Typically 7 days a week. He bit off a big project. A huge, enormous project that was well thought out and executed…and if he can pull off will give him a certain amount of financial freedom and flexibility to live the life he craves.
He told me today how he craved normalcy and described it as shopping a local farmer’s market, reading the newspaper’s event page to see what we can plan to do that week. Sipping on some wine, cuddling on the couch while watching a movie and having lazy chats about all the stuff we like to talk about. It’s his dream. It sounds so nice. Having a 40 hour work week, chilling with me in the evening, getting up around 4-5 AM, hitting the gym, and working like a “normal” person.
I can tell his schedule is getting to him. Most days he does sound a little like a broken record. “I’m getting closer but not there yet.” Maybe he feels like the guy in this song…
….looking for motivation, looking for inspiration for the journey that seems never-ending. Sometimes he is down. I know there are days when he’s up alone, somewhere between 2-6 AM where discouragement sometimes sets in. It’s natural when things are hard …
But I see, even in three months – tremendous progress. I see changes and I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
And I guess if he is in the midst of all that madness, I’m glad I can be a bit of nourishment to his soul and spirit. I’m glad I can give him reasons to smile and motivation to stay focused so he can spend a little bit more time laughing with me across the table at our restaurant or walking down the street in the gas lamp district.
I’m honored that in the midst of such a heavy burden he is inclined to give me whatever time is left.
The good thing about trains is they don’t generally spin in a circle. There is momentum powering it ever forward. And eventually he will arrive at the station.
It’s just that trains can only go so fast. And he’s not sure how much longer his journey will be. Every time he turns a bend he looks into the distance as the train horn blows looking for the station. Sometimes squinting carefully because there are moments where he glimpses what looks like a structure off in the distance. And the people on this train ride with him have their hands shielding the sun from their eyes and they are straining to see with hope and sometimes discouragement that station vanish from view.
But I have every confidence in him. He’s a good leader and the most capable man I’ve ever known. So if anyone can do it he can. And I know that is why he’s got so many people on this train with him. They believe in him too or else they wouldn’t be there.
I would be remiss, even if it appears to be contrived and believe you me…it was not…but I would not forgive myself if I didn’t mention (because I read that book hundreds of times as a kid) The Little Engine that Could… was tired and doubted whether he could make it. Other trains were bigger, and more powerful, and faster than him. But he couldn’t quit and let down all the children in the village on the other side of that big hill. His only option was to keep going, trying with all his might, saying, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…” and I will be the one on the other side saying, “I knew you could, I you could, I knew you could…”
That train made it, and so will Harry. And Harry will be able to look back at this time in his life and hopefully smile knowing I was cheering him on every single chug, chug and puff, puff until the horn blows and that station is clearly in view. I’ll be the girl all dressed up waving my handkerchief with a big smile and tears in her eyes, ready to leap into his arms when he steps off that train and into normalcy.