From the April 2012 magazine.

April 2012: Dear Grapevine

As she left the train, she said, "Goodbye my friend." I never knew her name.

Strangers on a train
This past April 20, I was taking a train from Seattle to a town in central Washington. I was in my usual stupor, hungover and sick. A young woman shared the seat with me and small talk ensued. We had a 30-year age difference, so topics were sparse. I mentioned having a drinking problem, but said I was going to quit for sure, soon. My binges were becoming more and more unbearable. The woman asked what my plan was to quit drinking. I told her I would try more sincerely this time.

Shortly before getting off at her stop she gave me an address,...