For the past two years, I have devoted a remarkable amount of my life to the mastery of the MARC train from Baltimore. I can recite almost the entire Penn Line schedule from memory. I’ve developed a system for selecting the most comfortable seats, learned to precisely calibrate my morning routine and figured out how to stop smacking my head on the overhead racks.
One month from now, all of that knowledge will be utterly useless.
My husband and I are moving back to Washington, largely so I can avoid this commute. From our new place, I’ll be able to take the Metro or the bus to the office — or even just walk. This move should be making me ecstatic, but, weirdly, I’m a little sad. And I think I’ve figured out why: I’m in mourning.
I can still visit Baltimore, but what I can’t replicate is my commute — the adrenaline rush I get sprinting to Penn Station, the conversations that make me wish the hourlong trip didn’t have to end, the uninterrupted reading time. I’m guessing that within a few days of making the move, this nostalgia will pass. But all I can think of now are the things I still want to accomplish before I get off the train for good. Call it my MARC bucket list:
Visit the Odenton Heritage Society.
I pass through Odenton twice a day, and I always glance at the pretty little museum that sits next to the station. It’s a one-story stone building that might have absolutely nothing in it. But as long as it can keep me occupied until the next train comes by, I want to take a peek.
Figure out how fast the trains go.
A few weeks ago, I overheard Maryland Transit Administration folks who were filming an informational video at Penn Station boast that MARC is the fastest commuter train in North America and travels at speeds of 110 to 120 mph. I do not believe this. I think a scientific study is in order. (I’ll try to report back with my findings.)
Thank the conductor on the 7:40 p.m. from D.C.
I’m not sure who makes the announcements on that train, but no one else is nearly as excited about telling us we’re at West Baltimore (“Wessssssst Side!”). A close second is the guy on the 9:05 a.m. from Baltimore who always says, “Things are looking up. We’re on a high platform.” I can’t explain why, but it makes my day better.
Hold a really big party.
I’ve hosted happy hours on the MARC a few times with a bottle of wine and a few plastic cups (I keep it classy). But I’ve never held a major bash. A friend and I have talked for months about starting a fitness flash mob. Add in a few drinks and that’d certainly make for a memorable farewell.