Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 15: Pobject's train

There are too few trains these days.

If Johnny Cash were alive today, he’d have to write about leaving his lover at the ticker counter of a too-big airport (any farther and it’s ticketed passengers only). It wouldn’t be the same.

They’re too few now, but the few persist. On hot nights in June, with the windows open we can hear them wail as they roll along on the far side of the river, three or more miles off.

What train took me here?

I wondered this as I lay on my bed, the view through the window to the porch, where were some simple things, a cheap rotating fan, garage sale furniture tainted with dog pee, and a wobbly volleyball net that took an hour to erect. Beyond was the back yard, a quarter-acre of dog-trodden grass, an old rock wall making the plot seem smaller than it really is.

We move so fast sometimes that we lose touch with our younger selves, our ten-years-ago selves, the selves we left standing at some past station. They were the ones we left standing on the platform when the train pulled away.

One of mine stood on a radio-station rooftop in downtown Champaign and waited while the Earth’s shadow ate away the moon.

Another stood transfixed in a low-lit frat house in Nashville and watched an adorable redhead dip her hips to “Dancing Queen.”

We forget that one day they were us, too.

What train took me here?

I took a young friend and colleague out for a drink or two last Friday night, and he warned me: “look out, you’ve got a target on your back now.” When you don’t matter at all, everyone’s your friend. But I suspect I’ve gone about as far as I can on this line without making a few enemies now and then.

Sometimes I feel as though I’m waiting for the next outbound train, and I’m not particular about which way it’s headed.

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