You're waiting for a train, a train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don't know for sure...
Let me tell you a little something about this train...
The train is one line; one gray-striped rectangular prism, one bullet on wheels; it heads from where you want to be to where you have to be, and back.
I rode the train one night, I rode it back, from the place I had to be to the place I wanted to be. Sooner or later I was next to a young man with a briefcase in his hand. Later than sooner, he and I were as familiar as two hydrophilic molecules in a bowl of soup. I know I am dreaming. I can see the subtleties, the unusualness, yet, it doesn't matter. How can it not matter?
Each car of a train, wherever it's coming from and wherever it's going, is its own little, rectangular world. Whether I sit or stand, I aspire to be like that train, to be a long sequence of ordered dreams. Whether I have a seat on the end or a seat in the middle, if I am sitting, I am watching. Who's going to get off the train next? Who's going to stay on?
When I sit, I can see everyone in that rectangular world. When one leaves, I grow sad. A woman who boarded the train is getting off at a grim neighborhood. What's she doing there this time of night? Why's she leaving our team of fearless passengers? Does she, too, believe in the curse, that if you travel with people for too long, you start to share the same dreams? An old man who looks retired, on the other hand, gets off at a place where people can physically do nothing other than live.
You wake up in the morning, and it's so cold you hardly remember that it makes you sad to see people you've never met becoming people you'll never meet. Morning comes, day flows like a river, and it hits night like a rock, and you're on your way back to the place you want to be, which you made with your own two hands, and you start seeing people invisibling themselves from you. It's like a piece of ice lodged in a lung. It makes you feel young. It makes your breath cold. It makes you feel old.
Some nights, there's frustration. The windows are fogged with men and women's breath. There are no children here. I'm in a tunnel beneath the earth. I look at the windows and think, there are so many people in here, I can't even see outside! I don't think, "There's nothing outside those windows" because the windows are fogged. And if the windows weren't fogged, I'd feel irritated at the people blocking the view. And if the people weren't blocking the view, then I'd look out and feel disappointed. This all has to do with my mood. Terrible moments birth temporary disasters. I sleep, I learn.
I think, "Is this train ever going to stop?" What if it doesn't? How full would it grow? Once it reached the end, how much farther would it go?
I think of myself sometimes, confidently, as a person who does things differently. As an individual rather than a team player. The question of where the train would go had bothered me for a while. Because I knew deep down that the answer wasn't as important as the fact that if no one else got off the train, I wouldn't get off, either. It was kind of the inverse of the question "if all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you jump off, too?" See, jumping off the bridge requires action. It requires climbing up that bridge. It requires being with your friends.
Last night, the miracle occurred; the train stopped — at least in my car. The train was packed. The person I'd been inching closer and closer to over the last eighteen minutes, the person who'd been like an adjacent molecule in a drop of water, had become first like an adjacent atom in a molecule, and eventually like a fellow orbiting electron, and finally, we were like protons in a nucleus. Though wearing a smart suit, he was young, maybe younger than me. He looked like a guy who admired those who admired those who made beautiful things. This, and he was having trouble with a girl. He whispered, as the train rolled to a stop,
"I get sick when royals betray their retainers
I cringe when the contents outweigh their containers
I hate brain teasers and despise no-brainers
Tell me, where can I find the slack to maintain her?"
I went on thinking, restlessly. The train stopped, stopped to breathe. I took in a breath of the cold air.
"I'm getting off this train," I said. "Get out of the way." No one moved. It was like a nightmare involving a train. "Get out of the way." I swiveled around jumped out the door and fell off the platform.
The train went on, like a rolling stone. Past the last stop, where no moonlight shone. It wobbled and rocked like an odd pebble thrown; fell of the edge of the earth, died full and alone.