Nancy Roman

I Missed The Train

(A reprise – one of my favorite posts from a few years ago)

I Missed The Train

The current heat wave reminds me of the first time I ever wanted to be a grown-up.

Some kids can’t wait to grow up; but not me.

I liked being a kid. I could not picture life without dolls and make-believe.  Being an adult looked awful, almost as bad as being a boy – who seemed to do nothing but pretend to shoot each other. Sure grown-ups could still swim and ride bicycles and play cards, but they didn’t seem to have much fun doing it.

I wanted to wear makeup, of course, but I didn’t see a reason why I couldn’t be a kid and wear makeup too. Makeup is part of make-believe – and that was my right as a kid.

No, I didn’t want to grow up.

Until a hot summer trip in 1962 to Washington DC.

My family traveled by train from Connecticut to Washington for my father’s military reunion.

And that train ride changed everything.

The six of us – Dad, Mom, my two older sisters, my little brother and me – were joined by my parents’ best friends and their two daughters.

My sisters were only a year apart in age, and the older of the friends’ daughters was their age too.

The younger daughter Jan was a rambunctious nine-year-old. I was eleven. I had, up to this point, always had great fun with Jan.

I had never been on a train before. The train car had seats that faced each other.  This reminded me of a stagecoach like on Bonanza and I was delighted.

My parents sat with their friends, with my little brother between Mom and Dad. The older girls quickly settled down into seats that faced a group of boys. I sat separately with Jan.

Sooner or later, an active little girl can get on the nerves of a daydreamer little girl. A seven hour train ride did it for me.

Jan was up and down and back and forth. She seemed to especially enjoy going to the ladies’ room, as if there were something enthralling about peeing on a train. She needed to visit her mother constantly. She needed a snack every ten minutes. And she wanted to sit by the window…no, the aisle…no, the window. And her method of getting past me was just to crawl over me. I had footprints on my skirt. What a baby.

And from where I sat, I could see my sisters, Christine and Claudia, with Jan’s sister Barbara. Sitting with those boys.

I hated boys.

But on the other hand, there was an awful lot of giggling going on with those boys. It seemed to me the boys even treated the girls to a soda. Like in Archie and Veronica.

I couldn’t hear their conversation. But I knew from Popeye that boys mostly liked to show their muscles to girls.  So I imagined that there was a lot of muscle demonstration going on.

And suddenly I was jealous. I wanted to sit on the train with boys. I wanted to be laughing with boys. I wanted to flirt. I wanted to be grown up like my sisters.  (who were 14 and 15.)

We saw all kinds of historic things in Washington on that trip. But I only remember the oppressive heat. And that train ride.

But I realize now that I missed my opportunity to get my wish.

For many years, I had a job which required me to take the train to New York once a week. I got to ride on the train with boys.

But all these guys had their laptops and their cell phones and their Wall Street Journals.

Where were the cokes? Where was the laughter? The flirting?

Years of riding on the train with boys and not once – NOT ONCE – did a boy show me his muscles.

I’m so disappointed. Being an adult sucks as much as I thought it did.



  1. I just simply love this.


    • Thanks! My memories are still so clear from that trip… how I wanted to be grownup like my sisters (I never realized they were just kids too!).


      • I am growing up beside the innocence of my 5 year old grandson, and often wish I could go back to the time when I thought there was a man in the moon and that I could be a princess…


  2. This made me smile so much! I’m the oldest of three, so I was the one that got to hang out with boys before my sisters did. However, what I quickly discovered was that my middle sister was much better at boy talk than I was, so I became the dorky older sister that got in the way of her giggling… 20 years later and that still hasn’t changed!


    • Being the younger sister, I was always watching and copying. My mother hated that…. she told me to stop trying to Christine and Claudia. They had me because they wanted a Nancy. But oh, the envy!


  3. Cute story. My oldest (14) thinks he is no longer a kid. My youngest (11) has the good sense to know to enjoy his childhood while he still can. I think he’s noticed all the sucky “have-tos” that his parents have to do 24/7.


    • Yes… makeup was something I desired. Adulthood, not so much. And I still feel the same way.


  4. Dana

    Yeah, being an adult sucks. I never wanted to be a grownup. Still don’t.


    • I make sure I let my silly immature side play outside as much as possible.


  5. What a delight! I remember train trips with Cokes and Hershey bars. No boys. But I was seven.


    • I think that was my first train ride ever. I was very impressed. And I didn’t get on a plane until I was 20. Life was simpler back then.


  6. Yes, especially if you’re on the early morning Metro North line, you’re lucky to escape with your life if you even whisper. Maybe on a more raucous Friday afternoon run, you’d have guys wanting to show their muscles!


    • Exactly! MetroNorth from Connecticut. You are not allowed to speak or look at anyone.


  7. Prescient, that’s what you were!


  8. If they showed you their muscles they would probably get arrested now. It’s definitely a different time.


  9. Sally Habib

    I didn’t want to grow up either … Now
    with Prodigal children , aches and pains
    and all the responsibility … Death and taxes
    I realize that I was right all along … Enjoyed
    your article …


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