The Chambers’ Debate: Transportation Edition

Preface: My mom, the wonderful Catharine Chambers, was a military brat and went to High School in Vicenza, Italy. Cool, I know.

Hearing of our two options for Sunday travel away from Florence, San Gimignano or Venice, I was torn; which way was I to go? So, naturally, I texted the expert: my mama. Right away I got a response back, “OMG!! You’re so lucky. Venice. It will be very worth it.” Decision made, train ticket bought, and group organized, the adventure was locked in. Venice, here we come.

Venice lies only 30 minutes from where my mom went to high school. Being in Italy has already given me a small glimpse of what it would have been like to be living in her shoes as a teenager. I have had the opportunity to eat the combo of lemon and chocolate gelato like her, go shopping on cobblestone streets like her, and last but certainly not least, take trains to fun places like her. The stories she told always left me engaged and in awe. Yet, throughout my years, I have had a special ability of twisting these adventures back on her. Whenever my mom didn’t let me go out in high school, I predictably pulled one card: “When you were in high school, you would to go to other cities and countries with your friends on weekends, mom!”

Of course, this was always combatted with her go-to line: “that’s very different, Olivia. You’re not driving tonight. End of story.”

Needless to say, she always won. And now, as a wise, sagacious, enlightened 18 year-old, I finally see her side of the debate. Train-travel (and foot-travel for that matter) is game-changing and America really needs to take note for the sake of the high-school Olivias out there. Here is a mental list of the benefits I have conjured up:

1. Train-travel eliminates the problem of drunk drivers at night. Trains get rid of the risk for inexperienced teen drivers (like me) being on the road, in the dark, with other more reckless drivers. If I could of hopped on a train to make it to LA, instead of hopping on the 101 to the 405 in Friday night traffic, I bet Catharine would have been much more at ease with my outings.

2. Trains facilitate the exploration of other countries and cultures. With the ease of buying a pass and hopping on a transportation system with a flexible schedule, they offer an easily accessible opportunity to learn. Just by traveling, young adults (and anyone for that matter) has the opportunity to become more cultured and respect the ways of other places. In America, by contrast, it’s not so easy to just hop in the car and see another country.

3. Trains give a sweet time for some reflection. As we were making our departing voyage from Venice back to Florence, I realized one monstrosity of a problem—my phone was dead. That meant that I had to sit in dreaded silence for a two-hour train ride, yet I learned that it’s ok to listen to myself, be in my own thoughts. Just by sitting there, I allowed my soul a time to reflect on everything CR has been and where I wanna go after the experience. I learned that sitting in my own thoughts isn’t such a bad thing, and maybe I should have my phone die more often.

4. (This one combats Catharine Chambers’ biggest fear for me and my friends) Train travel eliminates the problem of a group of young girls breaking down in a car on the side of the road in the middle of the night, being stranded on the side of the freeway. Although this has never actually happened to me, I have heard the hypothetical one too many times from my mother.

5. Train travel is a real bonding experience for everyone involved. We have had some funny train stories, but the greatest of all is the triumph our group felt as we successfully made it to Venice and back with no train debacles. It made us feel independent, yet also humbled us, as minds as we saw the stress firsthand train days are to Dr. P.

All in all, after our adventure to Venice, I feel more connected to my mom by seeing her teenage arena, but also by seeing her side of the recurring transportation argument. America is much different than Italy; it’s like comparing apples and oranges, you just can’t do it. So mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry that sophomoric Olivia argued with you weekly about the contrasting transportation styles of our high school adventures. You win.

3 Thoughts

  1. You gave me a great giggle this morning. I cannot tell you how happy I am that you are having such an amazing trip. The memories and lessons you will take away from this trip will carry you through the rest of your life. You will learn things about yourself that you haven’t even realized yet. A good friend of mine once said “Travel is the antidote to ignorance.” Travel opens the eyes, mind and heart in a way you never could imagine. I love you with every inch of my heart my sweet and very smart baby girl.

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  2. Love this, Olivia! I’m so happy that you and your friends get to experience Italy this way. I especially love that you now understand it was different for your mom. The kids and I have had so many of the same conversations! When Henry started going to WEHO at 18, I freaked out! “Well, you were running around Europe at 18!” the kids would say. But it was different. No freeways, no drunk driving. Not to mention the fact that everything in Europe is geographically closer. They could be in another country in the time it takes them to get WEHO, or Palm Springs. They might even have a nice, dead-phone moment on the train.

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