Orphan Train

And so it is that you learn how to pass, if you're lucky, to look like everyone else, even though you're broken inside.

As with Dutchy and Carmine on the train, this little cluster of women has become a kind of family to me. Like an abandoned foal that nestles against cows in the barnyard, maybe I just need to feel the warmth of belonging. And if I'm not going to find that with the Byrnes, I will find it, however partial and illusory, with the women in the sewing room.

Do you believe in spirits? Or ghosts?...Yes, I do. I believe in ghosts....They're the ones who haunt us. The ones who have left us behind."

"Vivian has come back to the idea that the people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting our ordinary moments. They're with us in the grocery store, as we turn the corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles."

"The things that matter stay with you, seep into your skin.

easier to assume that people have it out for you than to be disappointed when they don’t come through.

Forgive me if I'm wrong. But are you-were you-did you come here on a train from New York about ten years ago?

He reaches over and touches my necklace. "You still have it. That gives me faith."
"Faith in what?"
"God, I suppose. No, I don't know. Survival.

I am not glad she is dead, but I am not sorry she is gone.

I have come to think that's where Heaven is, a place in the memories of other where our best selves live

I learned long ago that loss is not only probable but inevitable. I know what it means to lose everything, to let go of one life and find another. And now I feel, with a strange, deep certainty, that it must be my lot in life to be taught that lesson over and over again.

I like the assumption that everyone is trying his best, and we should all just be kind to each other.

I love you," he writes again and again. "I can't bear to live without you. I'm counting the minutes until I see you." The words he uses are the idioms of popular songs and poems in the newspaper. And mine to him are no less cliched. I puzzle over the onionskin, trying to spill my heart onto the page. But I can only come up with the same words, in the same order, and hope the depth of feeling beneath them gives them weight and substance. I love you. I miss you. Be careful. Be safe.

It is good to test your limits now and then, learn what the body is capable of, what you can endure.

I've come to think that's what heaven is- a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.

Molly learned long ago that a lot of the heartbreak and betrayal that other people fear their entire lives, she has already faced. Father dead. Mother off the deep end. Shuttled around and rejected time and time again. And still she breathes and sleeps and grows taller. She wakes up every morning and puts on clothes. So when she says it's okay, what she means is that she knows she can survive just about anything.

Mrs. Scatcherd raps Dutchy's knuckles several times with a long wooden ruler, though it seems to me a halfhearted penalty. He barely winces, then shakes his hands twice in the air and winks at me. Truly , there isn't much more she can do. Stripped of family and identity, fed meager rations, consigned to hard wooden seats until we are to be, as Slobbery Jack suggested, sold into slavery — our mere existence is punishment enough.

My entire life has felt like chance. Random moments of loss and connection. This is the first one that feels, instead, like fate.

people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting our most ordinary moments. They’re with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles.

She has never tried to find out what happened to her family — her mother or her relatives in Ireland. But over and over, Molly begins to understand as she listens to the tapes, Vivian has come back to the idea that the people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting our most ordinary moments. They're with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles.

She knows too well what it's like to tamp down your natural inclinations, to force a smile when you feel numb. [...] The expression of emotion does not come naturally, so you learn to fake it. To pretend. To display an empathy you don't really feel. And so it is that you learn to pass, if you're lucky, to look like everyone else, even though you're broken inside.

She should be grateful. Without Vivian she'd be sliding down a dark path toward nowhere good . But it kind of feels nice to nurture her resentment, to foster it. It's something she can savor and control, this feeling of having been wronged by the world. That she has fulfilled her role as a thieving member of the underclass, now indentured to this genteel midwestern white lady, is too perfect for words.

So I am learning to pretend, to smile and nod, to display empathy I do not feel. I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside.

So is it just human nature to believe that things happen for a reason - to find some shred of meaning even in the worst experiences?

So is it just human nature to believe that things happen for a reason — to find some shred of meaning even in the worst experiences?" Molly asks when Vivian reads some of these stories aloud.
"It certainly helps," Vivian says.

Time constricts and flattens, you know. It's not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear.

Turtles carry their homes on their backs.” Running her finger over the tattoo, she tells him what her dad told her: “They’re exposed and hidden at the same time. They’re a symbol of strength and perseverance.

Upright and do right make all right.

you are only as interesting as you are useful to someone

you can’t find peace until you find all the pieces. She wants to help Vivian find some kind of peace, elusive and fleeting as it may be.

You can't find peace until you fin fall the pieces.

You got to learn to take what people are willing to give.