Wednesday, 30 November 2016

All The People Who Travel On Trains.

This is ostensibly a piece of writing about trains. But it has nothing to do with trains.

I been catching a lot of trains recently. Not with my bare hands anymore, knees weak arms are heavy and yet .. how illuminating is it to be on trains? With strangers? I keep taking photos. The pic above is one of my all-time favourites. Wasn't even cranky at the guy at all, it was afternoon peak hour and he was SO exhausted and snoring. His head kept falling onto my shoulder then he'd snap back to reality, go to sleep, fall on my shoulder again, etc. I didn't begrudge him his sleep in fact I admired him for being so tired after going out there in the world.

Every single time I'm on a train I look around and wonder where all the people are going. What are they doing, who are they, what's their name rank file and serial number. We all go about our respective days every day. The hell do people do?

I've learnt a lot from recent train escapades. Especially about personal space, common courtesy, acceptance of loud people on the quiet carriages. In India they have pink train carriages reserved only for women which was a relief. When I was over there on a train I was standing in a crowded vestibule facing the window but in the reflection I could see - a sea, every single man crowded behind me was looking at me in such ways as unnerving. Vile, ugh. Afterwards I always went on a pink carriage with female security guards who would YELL at every man who attempted to get on. I'm no man-hater I swear but standing in that vestibule with those hungry males eyes and thoughts was one of the most disturbing experiences. I may as well have had no clothes on at all.

So recently on a train this guy completely invaded my five-seater. He sat down, cloistered and squeezed all of his luggage encircling the five-seater. The only baggage I had was emotional so physically I wasn't taking up much space - but when he plonked himself down there was no chance for me to escape unless I actually climbed up on top of the train seat. I had my headphones on, listening to Tupac who I really wish wasn't dead but that's not the point. Point is, I was having an "I'm out in public in public spaces with members of the public uggghhhh yuck anxiety-ridden day." And there were other seats for him to choose - entire four-seaters he could have claimed as his own but no. My dark sunnies meant I could watch him look me up and down, back and forth, with that old familiar feeling that women know when they're getting leered at. I wasn't in the goddamn mood. And I knew I wanted to write about this eventually so I snapped some happy snaps of the occasion:

I speak fluent body language and even though this guy sat diagonal, I had to keep moving my legs and scrunched myself up so he wouldn't touch me because he kept "accidentally" touching me. His hand almost fell off his knee onto my knee I JUST WANT TO LISTEN TO DEAD TUPAC. I was actually already aiming my phone at my face for a selfie to illustrate my peeved offness and happened to snap it RIGHT at the moment he asked me a question while I was wearing headphones listening to Tupac, my body as close to the window as I could, trapped in this five-seater unescapable fort.

Getting. Very. Angry.

See how I had my arm across my chest? He kept looking at my breasts. My brain actually thought "Oh I shouldn't have worn this top or he wouldn't be staring." See my eyebrow raise, the tight lips? It's because I ignored his question. I heard his question perfectly, just didn't want to answer it but when I didn't answer .. he threw his hands up in the air like I was the rudest bitch in town. Oh dude .. you have no idea how very much more than the rudest bitch in town I can be. I started filming thought ok, let's go. The video is over on my facebook page if you want to take a look but it goes a little something like this:

Me: (Takes headphones off.) "Sorry were you trying to ask me a question when I had my headphones on?"
Leery: "Yeah yeah I was just sayin' ... are those cowhide boots?
Me: "Yes. Yes - my boots are made from cowhide. Umm, I'm gonna go. I feel really uncomfortable and looked at. (At this point I was CLAMBERING over both seats and his Mt Everest luggage like a blanket fort gone wrong.) "So, you know, have a nice trip."

Then I ranted into my camera phone something along the lines of "This shit happens all the time. Men stare at women and claim space that is not theirs ... I'm 44. Not asking to be looked at, I'm just too old for this shit." He started ranting loudly. "I only bloody asked you about your boots!" So I changed carriages and THEN my phone died which obviously was the real tragedy of the situation.

However just a few days on a train (lots of trains I'm telling you #trains) .. something entirely hopefully unexpectedly happened! Two young women talking, I pull my headphones to one side because curious busybody - to find them animatedly talking about one of the best philosophy conversations ever. I got lost in their words, even turned my music off. It was magical. They talked of Homers Odyssey, Jung. How Frankenstein was representative of something I had no idea about. The entire story of Archilles Heel .. so, so much more. And they were talking LOUDLY. Are chicks even allowed to talk loudly on trains?

Look!!! Both sets of hands, waving wildly to illustrate all of their glorious points on Greek Gods and existentialism and all this stuff I'd never heard of. I really wish I'd thanked them for their conversation before I alighted but I didn't. I'm actually quite shy and was headed to a big day in Parramatta, defeated already.

THEN THAT SAME DAY ON THE TRAIN BACK UP THE MOUNTAINS THIS GUY WAS CRANING HIS NECK BACKWARDS TO KEEP LOOKING AT ME. I was wearing a red puffer jacket? Last time I checked red puffer jackets are not on the list of top ten sexy things to wear. WHY keep looking? I didn't have my headphones, just this face. So he soon stopped looking.

Anyway, this entire piece of words coming out of my brain to my fingers to your eyes isn't about just the surface stuff of people on trains. It's about their Souls and their Spirits and what they've been through in their lives, why do they look so defeated. Why are they so jovial. What are their names? Do they stay up until 2am questioning the Universe too? Have they just welcomed a new baby into their lives? Have they had their hearts smashed to smithereens against rocks like all those shipwrecks under the sea my boys and I saw from that lighthouse at the beginning of 2013? Are the people on the trains on medication? Which ones? Ever gone crazy? Ever came good? How do they cope how do they live?

Do the people on the trains wonder about the Federal Reserve? The UTTERLY CORRUPT Dakota Pipeline and how the authorities are itching to infiltrate peaceful gatherings of people and turn it all into a civilian war protest and get them the hell out of there? I wonder if the people on trains know about the damage the Rothschild family have done to the world for generations, funding all sides of wars since Napoleon days? Do the people on the trains and the platforms and the stations spilling out into the cities beyond the trains .. are they nurses or students, office workers, nothing people, undercover detectives, bored shop assistants, busy builders, writers dreamers hopers thinkers artists midnight creatures? WHO ARE ALL OF THE PEOPLE AND WHAT DO THEY DREAM ABOUT? You can feel so lonely on the busiest platforms. Especially when you look around and people have such purpose in their steps. But we don't know what the other has been through, the deaths, the hard, financial woes, heartbreaks and joys, grief and betrayal.

Anyway this entire post has gone off the rails and I've lost my train of thought. I've been on the wrong side of the tracks for some time, it's painful to be a trainwreck, lose your schedule and get scheduled. But right now I'm in the library, or as I used to call it when I was a kid "the liberry."  Thinking about all the meanings, definitions, and symbolism of trains. Paulo Coelho says life is the train, not the destination. Marianne Williamson says if a train doesn't stop at your destination, then it's not your train.

The best bit about travelling somewhere on any form of transportation is the freedom one feels about being suspended between two places but you're still travelling somewhere. With purpose, even. That's a good feeling, don't you think?

Now when I'm on a train - and ONLY if there are a veritable plethora of vacant seats - I purposely don't let anybody sit next to me. I'm being quite a wanker about it really. Just making a small personal statement that I'm allowed to take up space. Spread out a bit.

My 8-year old son and I recently watched the entire movie series of Star Wars and we were both fascinated. He for the first time, but me because I finally GOT it. The storyline, the Force, why Jedi is considered its own religion. I love being on trains with my son. I love being anywhere with him, he has this whole different slant on things I wouldn't ordinarily realise. We were talking about Darth Vader and the reasons he turned "bad" after being one of the best boss Jedi Knights of all time. (That I completely understood why Anakin turned to the Dark Side of the Force scared the utter shit out of me.) We both love Yoda the most. Rocco stood in front of me looking into my eyes and waving his hands all Jedi-mind trick at 10pm.

"You WILL let me have an ice block before bed, mum."
"An ice block shall you have, son."

Coincidentally for ages now I've been seeing this exact quote pop up everywhere, long before we watched Star Wars, way longer than I started catching trains so often.

That's the end of this blog post except to say I lost everything I feared to lose but I hadn't trained myself to lose everything. Therefore I've got some training to do.

I'm catching a train early in the morning AGAIN because I don't like driving to Sydney. I prefer my trains. Especially all the people on them.

 Oh this song. (Did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?)

(Comments to this website are still not enabled .. I'm still in training.)

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