I have been mulling around the concept of lines as connections. In River of January, the term lines was emerging into common usage with more modern transportation. Helen sailed on the Cunard Lines from New York to Le Harve, later to London, and finally the Munson Line to Rio de Janeiro. Both Helen and Chum rode on rail lines, from state to state, and across the country. With aviation’s development, air routes were served by the growth of new airlines.
These lines, all moving people, mail, and goods shortened space and time. One end of a line, say from New York, where both protagonists lived before they met, tied Chum to Los Angeles, to West Palm Beach Florida, and finally to Rio. His choice of lines tied him to people, places, and events which defined and shaped his life.
Helen’s lines transported her to the West Coast too, but also to Canada, Texas, Paris, Vienna, and later on to Rio. She appeared in some Hollywood movies, danced in changing theaters, and became a solo act at the Copacabana. Her path profoundly shaped her professionalism, and her outlook.
Their movement on those busy lines finally crossed in 1936, when Chum and Helen found themselves in the same spot at the same time. That connection altered both of their lives permanently.
Lines in the modern world are electrically instantaneous. Through texts, Facebook, or Twitter, people cross and recross others lives with mixed outcomes, and often operating from isolated locations. Helen and Chum’s lines may have been slower, and more unreliable, but it seems that the effort had a more dynamic and glamorous quality.