Monday, June 18, 2012

Lis, the World Traveler

Me and Lis
As I was coming back to Chicago on the Amtrak, I had a seat all to myself... until the conductor asked me  if I would be willing to move up a seat so a family could sit together. At first, I was a little unhappy about having to share my space, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences I have ever had with another passenger... 

For most of our 3.5 hour journey, my companion and I did not really speak to one another (although I did notice that she was a native French speaker from the book she was reading and her accent). We slept. We ate. We read. As we approached Chicago and I noticed the familiar landmarks, Lis noticed me checking my watch and asked if it usually took so long to creep into Union Station. I smiled and said yes and asked if she had ever been to Chicago before.  
She hadn't. But she had been to nearly ever other place in the world! 
As we spoke, Lis told me about her origins in French Canada. She was married at 20 because her parents did not believe that a woman's place was anywhere outside the household. Yet Lis ended up pursuing an education in law and living without children... so that she could travel  to all the places she had read about in books and seen in magazines - to places she had only dreamed of.    
Lis and her friend Carole
Initially, she would travel a few different places a year, but after retiring at age 52, Lis made traveling her permanent lifestyle. While her husband is at home working, Lis travels to Paris, Japan, Egypt, Syria, England, India... You name it, she's been there. Every month she stays in a new place for several weeks. She often takes a friend for company and receives visits from her husband, who is happy because she is happy.  
What a wonderful life! It was so lovely to hear of all the magnificent places you have seen, Lis, and it was a pleasure having your company on the train, even if it was only for a little while. I hope you have a wonderful time in Chicago! 

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