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Lost Opporunities on the Orange Line Train to Ballston

Lost Opporunities on the Orange Line Train to Ballston

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Published by neptuneauteur
Edward P. Jones’, An Orange Line Train to Ballston, is about lost opportunities, how they come to pass and what occurs when one abandons possibilities, or more importantly how we can react in having allowed them to pass by.
Edward P. Jones’, An Orange Line Train to Ballston, is about lost opportunities, how they come to pass and what occurs when one abandons possibilities, or more importantly how we can react in having allowed them to pass by.

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Published by: neptuneauteur on Feb 15, 2008
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09/16/2010

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Lost Opportunities on An Orange Line Train toBallston
Anjuelle D. Floyd
Edward P. Jones’,
 An Orange Line Train to Ballston
, is about lost opportunities, how theycome to pass and what occurs when one abandons possibilities, or more importantly howwe can react in having allowed them to pass by.Each day Marvella Watkins, her daughter Avis, and Marvella’s two sons, Marcus andMarvin, ride the Orange Line Train that travels to Ballston. Their destination isMcPherson Square, a stop located near the school Marvin and Marcus attend—whereMarvella’s mother, who keeps Avis during the day, lives—and where Marvella works.The orange line train like that of the blue line that veers off to destination other thatBallston, passes the Stadium-Armory Subway Platform where Marvella and her children board the train each morning. One day and minutes before boarding an Orange Line Trainto Ballston the younger Marcus encounters the man with dreadlocks.All five board the train. The younger Marcus, curious and taken by the man’s dreadlocks,and with Avis joining in, continues his conversation with the man whose name we never get to know.The man with dreads never offers his name. Though not as obvious, Marvella, like her eldest child and elder son, Marvin, remains distant, never asking the man’s name and notoffering hers. Marvella and her children arrive each morning at the Stadium-Armory stop
11/09/2007 
(all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’,
 Lost in the City
 
of 5
ISBN -00679258-X)
1
 
Lost Opportunities on An Orange Line Train toBallston
Anjuelle D. Floyd
with expectations of seeing the man with dreads or as Marcus describes them, “…
hair like snakes
.”Most mornings he is present. Once on board, Marcus, more so than Avis continues their daily chats with Marcus asking the man various questions and the man with dreadlocksoffering answers as best he can. He does not seemed bothered, rather impressed withMarcus’ curiosities about life, as he listens.Marvella, tentatively looking on, desires to know more about the man—wishes he wouldinquire of her astrology sign. Yet she never asks the man’s name. Nor does she give himthe slip of paper on which she has written her address.Marvella never gives herself the opportunity to tell the man with dreads that she hasexperienced a set of failed relationships, one with the elder Marvin’s father, who visitsMarvin on an irregular basis, and another man who treated Marvella badly.Knowing this as a reader makes all the more interesting our observance of Marvella, her torture when in the presence of the man with dreads—her ambivalence around whether togive him the piece of paper with her address, or her inability to speak to him beyondcorrecting and chiding Avis and Marcus on how they address him.Marvella’s soft reprimands to Marcus and Avis are almost an allegory of her internalvoice telling her not to speak to the dreadlocked gentleman. Marvella, like the man’s hair,
11/09/2007 
(all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’,
 Lost in the City
 
of 5
ISBN -00679258-X)
2
 
Lost Opportunities on An Orange Line Train toBallston
Anjuelle D. Floyd
is knotted and confused as to how and when to strike up a conversation with him. Onlythrough the interactions of her children—specifically Avis and Marcus and then for themost part Marcus— does she address the man with dreads. Marvella is not free and openlike the younger, Marcus.Caught between the diametric actions of the vivacious and questioning Marcus and theimmense solitude of the elder and eldest, Marvin, Marvella, like Marvin, is wary andfearful the goodness of the man with dreads as demonstrated through his interactions withMarcus—and more severely her own sincerity. That the first syllable of her son’s namesmatches hers,
Mar,
is no mistake. One
marvels
with sadness at how Marvella’s lifeexperiences have
marred 
her ability to trust others, and most poignantly, herself and thewishes of her heart.One Saturday and in desperation, after seeing the man with dreads wearing a suit and tie,Marvella, under the guise of driving around to explore their neighbor, goes out with thechildren. She is looking for the man with dreads.Weeks go by after she does not find him, Marvella and her children seeing him only four or five times. Each day Marvella takes the train of whatever line—orange or blue— arrives first.
11/09/2007 
(all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’,
 Lost in the City
 
of 5
ISBN -00679258-X)
3

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