Settling myself into a seat on the train to London Paddington yesterday morning, I heard teenage voices calling to each other.  Twisting round in my seat (cunningly positioned near the doors so I could keep an eye on my case, which had mysteriously lost the luggage tag with my name on it), I saw a girl, 16 or so, pressed against the door as the train pulled out of the station.  Looking out of the window next to me, there was a boy who was probably a couple of years older, waving goodbye.  He didn’t look quite as upset as she seemed to be.

I smiled wryly as I settled back in my seat, and when the girl walked past me with tears streaming down her face I handed her a tissue.  She looked at me startled, then snuffled a thank you before finding an empty seat where she could curl up.

I remember those train journeys when I was her age.  Every time I left my boyfriend, I thought my heart was going to break, because it would be so long until I’d see him again – three weeks, at least.  I’d sob my way through a pack of tissues, leaning against the door, then look thoroughly miserable for the rest of the journey home.  The other passengers must have thought I’d just been told someone had died.

I know better now, of course.  I know what it really feels like to think your heart is breaking, and to know that it really will be a very long time before you see someone again.  A lot of those involvewd train journeys, too.  Still, I remember how it felt at 16, and I remember how eventually the rhythym of the wheels stops the crying and lulls you into contemplative dozing out the window.

If that girl was anything like me, by the time the train got to London she was chatting to her friends on her mobile and planning the next few days, the trauma of the departure entirely forgotten.

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