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A leap into the train

3 minutes

The walls came in so I grabbed my coat and squeezed myself through the shrinking door. The flimsy air insufficient for my packed lungs. My bike, the steel horse shining in October-light, quickly brought me to the train station. Nowadays I can no longer enjoy the “A ticket to nowhere please”; instead my public transport card receives an impersonal bleep from the portals before I rush up the stairs to the trains.

The train left before I could reach it – even when you’re not trying to be on time you can be late – so I was left to ponder my options. Far north, Groningen. Cold wind, nothing much to do. They’ll probably serve nice coffee and I can return home before dinner. Far south, Maastricht, where I once sat on the ruins of the city wall, where a church turned into a bookshop. Nothing to do, but strolling around, and I’ll make it home in time for my favourite TV show. Friesland then, where I don’t speak the language? But what would I do among fields of grass full of cows or god knows what’s actually around there. Sail boats, I believe. And Zeeland, where it feels like abroad? But then all the looks, the ‘go back to your city’ looks, and the loneliness of beaching on your own.

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Belgium then – but I cried in the rain last time I went there, when the ATMs were inside banks and someone was held hostage at a coffee place until I could find cash, but I couldn’t find it and then lost my way, so in the end my clothes were drenched as was my soul and I vowed to myself never to like the country again.

Considering my options, I leapt into a train.

The sad truth dawned on me, that my country has become so bureaucratically efficient and so shinily safe, that even my mind starts to mould into that thinking. Even if I’m running away, I must do it right. I’m considering options, riding a respectable train – third class doesn’t even exist – and where are the characters on the road? Backpackers travel in packs, the homeless speak to their voices, and I’m continually bothered by my own: ‘whatever happens to you is your own responsibility’.

So here I am, in my respectable clothes, with my politically correct opinions, my valid public transport card, my health insurance, my paid rent, my social network and not a single opportunity to run away.

The train comes to a halt and I realize that when taking intuitive decisions, the only place you’ll ever end up in is home.

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