The trees pushed past the electric wire guards, desperately trying to brush their fingers along the cool, hard face of the train.
But we were always leaving. Stirring clouds of absence and expectation in the wake, we devoured each rail.
She carried us with absolute, unforgiving care. She opened her sides to be shuffled and stretched by us (who are closer than family for an hour or less).
Watching people racing to catch her, lessons of life sank in as she slowly gathered her enormous weight to roll stubbornly by their disappointed faces. Her window flashed their reflection like the ticking hand of the clock – whom they have failed.
Looking out we saw the ugly truth behind the stage. The land full of disarrayed dumpsters and abandoned cars, speckled with soggy velvet chairs holding angry smoking teens. We flew through industrial fields and split open back yard’s. The world was always brown, white and grey. Winter’s insult spotted the ground as though colour was a mistake trying to be undone.
As a commuter I am vulnerable, gaping, cruel, and dented. I scream through life like a train – not caring about the direction of the track, merely needing to be moving.
I feel old and failed as I sit in the uncomfortable seat of a train suffocated by exhaustion at the end of a work day.
But, there is something in the sound of a throng of tired adults dancing up the stairs to the beat of “We know what we’re doing.” There is a sense of community and understanding for those of us who are no longer confused by the boarding gates in the train station. A sleek skill to those who head purposefully to one side of the train knowing exactly where it will let them out as it nears their homes.
And there is something to be said for the privacy which we allow each other in spite of the tightness of space. With a few exceptions, one can touch knees with one person, and hips with another yet still retain your sense of independence, safety and space. We have found ways to move our eyes around to the few empty spaces and fill our ears with our own little worlds so that we guard over the solitude of each other.
As a commuter I am again aware how much a part of “us” I am. I see countless stories and lives play out and am reminded of the privilege that it is to live as a social species.
We are going somewhere, and we are doing something. Our lives have purpose.