When I was a child, my father always told me to stay behind the yellow dotted surface in the subway. "Don't get too close," he'd say, "You could fall." Even though I rolled my eyes then—how could I be so dumb as to fall into the subway tracks?—I still hear my father's voice as I travel alone in the subway, away from my father for the first time, staring scornfully at the fools who dare step in front of that cursed yellow line.
Before I went to school in New York, I grew up in a Massachusetts suburb 40 minutes outside of Boston. That means that, in order to get to college, I have to take an Amtrak train that takes me from point A to point B. This last Thanksgiving, my parents and I had to schedule an Amtrak the Sunday after the holiday around 3 p.m. to get me back to school around 7. However, an incident on a track in New York caused major delays for Amtrak, and at 6:30 p.m. my train for New York still hadn't arrived in Boston. I panicked because I knew that I still had a four-hour train ride ahead of me, an 8:30 a.m. class the next day, and a host of texts indicating that my train would keep getting pushed back later.
My father, seeing my concern, made a split-second decision to drive me 2 hours to New Haven, where I could take the Metro-North into New York. Although he had already driven an hour to the station we were currently waiting at, he didn't mind another 4 (total round trip) hours of driving at nearly 7 p.m. when he had work at 9 a.m. the next morning. His main concern was getting me to where I needed to be. He even stopped at a McDonalds in Mystic, CT before we reached New Haven, and I felt incredibly cared for at that moment.
My freshman year is over now and about a week ago, I had plans to take an Amtrak from Penn Station back to Boston after visiting my friends from school for a few days. I was sitting in the Penn Station Starbucks, excited to board my train and settle back into my routine at home, when I got a text from Amtrak saying my train was delayed. Only a half hour, but the familiar sense of dread washed over me. I didn't want a repeat of Thanksgiving, when my train kept getting pushed back and I felt trapped in the station. This time would be worse, though, because I was alone in Penn without my parents to comfort me and a million unfamiliar faces who didn't care whether I made it home alright or not.
On the brink of tears, I called my father.
The sound of his steady voice instantly calmed me, even in the bustling commotion of the Amtrak section of Penn. Although he was a little stern about it, he insisted that I calm down and reminded me that I would be home tonight. I smiled at the thought. Afterward, he stayed on the phone with me as he finagled the train schedules and got me on a different train home, one that wouldn't keep getting delayed. In order to do so in time for boarding, he had to put aside his work he was doing and not only calm me down but also cancel reservations and make new ones. As he promised, I made it home that night. I was so happy to see him through the glass waiting area in the Boston station, nodding his head slightly and smiling when he saw me limping over with my large bag.
I think the most important thing I learned about my father, and parents in general, after my experience with trains, is that he loves me unconditionally. He would sacrifice anything to make sure I get where I need to be, and that I'm safe and happy while getting there. He is so quick to put aside anything of his own to support everything of mine, and I'm so lucky to be loved in that way by him. I think a parent's love is one that can be matched by very few, and I hope to love someone in that way during my life.