Olivia Newport Train on When I Meet YouI wrote to a friend in a email recently that, “For no good reason I was behind on every good intention in my life.” It sure seems that way! One of my chronic good intentions is to write more in this space.

Some of the days I miss my mother most are the ones when I need someone to remind me it’s a lie that there’s no good reason. There are plenty of legitimate reasons I hadn’t written a short item my friend asked for help on sooner. My mother would be the first to tell me, “You are the boss of you” and “Close the door on guilt; slam it if you must.”

Some of the things going on these days, of course, are happening to you too. In these last few months, we’ve been trying to make sense of a world turned inside out, a collective trauma for which there is no expert consultant to call for the known answers. One way I’ve responded is to sew masks for friends and family who’ve had trouble getting them from other sources. I haven’t gone through so much thread and scraps in years. On the personal side, I’ve journeyed through a couple of grief anniversaries, and if you have some of these in your life you know how they slow you down despite your best intentions. Also, since I last wrote here on the blog, we’ve been ripping apart a room in our home down to the floor’s underlayment and starting from scratch to put it back together. It’s long overdue.

In the middle of this I have a new book to tell you about! When I Meet You is out in the world. This is the third in the Tree of Life series. Do you see that Chicago and North Western engine on top of the pile of books in the photo? Last fall, shortly after I’d turned in the manuscript to the publisher, my husband and I visited a model train show at the local mall with our daughter and her husband. I was drawn to the engine at one of the booths because the Chicago and North Western was a railroad that ran through my childhood in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and in the historical chapters of When I Meet You, a character rides the CNW to Denver’s Union Station. Her trunk arrives, but no one claims it.

What happened to her?

Maybe I just wanted to take a ride on the old CNW myself for nostalgia’s sake! I didn’t know until Christmas morning, but sometime during the train show, my husband managed to buy the engine and hide it in my car! I had thought it indulgent to buy it for myself, but he could see I really would like to have it.

While “no good reason” for what we don’t get accomplished is not usually true—whether we over-commit or under-plan or have inner dynamics or outer life circumstances to wrestle with—in a satisfying story “no good reason” clearly is not an acceptable answer. And certainly to someone like my recurring character Jillian Parisi-Duffy, it’s not acceptable. She’s determined to find out what happened to the owner of the abandoned trunk that turned up at Denver’s Union Station.

So come for a ride with me on the Chicago North Western, and maybe a good story will give you a good reason for a break you deserve.