Thoughts upon a train ride: a place where you belong – home?

I. Leaving, pt. 1

I wasn’t sure where exactly I was. I felt a bit lost, to be honest. After all, I’d thought I had found my place

But, about 5 minutes earlier, it had turned out that I was wrong. I was sitting in the wrong seat of the train. After a confusing journey through several cars – always carefully (neurotically) checking the car number to find out where in this train I actually was – I seemed to be running out of them: I was in car 32 and I needed number 24. Looking ahead, there didn’t seem to be an awful lot left. I was, in fact, being short of train. My reservation (car no. 24, seat 41) – that had cost me almost 5 euros extra – seemed quite useless.

Then, I decided to just opt for seat 41 of the car I was standing in. I thought, that was my best option. At least, until a girl at the next train stop claimed to be the actual owner of the seat I had grown fairly attached to within the last hour or so. So I got up and went (again) looking for the seat that belonged to me and that I belonged to.

First, I decided to find out how much train there was actually left and whether, possibly, someone might just have made a mistake when they assigned the numbers to the cars – something like, here goes 33, 32, 31 and last but not least: 24! 24 does come after 31, right? Well, in reality and my train, it sure didn’t. After 31…came nothing.

I headed back in the other direction, slightly grumpy, a little disoriented and very confused.

Then (in beautiful car no. 31) I spotted a seat that didn’t seem to be reserved to anyone yet. It was completely and utterly free and didn’t belong to anyone. So, I decided right then that it would belong to me. Or maybe, that I belonged there. I sat down and that was that.

Sometimes the places we think are calling us, they’re not actually where we belong. And sometimes, while trying to find them, we end up somewhere else and it’s unexpected, but it feels right nevertheless.

“There’s no place like a home”, a friend told me a day ago over lunch. I smiled and tapped my heels together three times as I usually do upon hearing just that. She smiled back at me (we’re both hopelessly in love with Dorothy and Toto, always looking for the yellow brick road). But, she insisted: “I mean, there’s no place like home – there’s no such thing!” She was all red in the face and excited as she said this. She told me that she was writing a paper that talks about how there is no place like home –

That home wasn’t really a place.

As I was sitting (finally sitting) in my lovely train seat, I was again thinking about that: There’s no place like home? And what was that anyways: home  – the place we (think we) belong to? So in my case at that very moment, it would have been my seat.  It felt comfortable enough.

II. Arriving

A bit of background: I was taking the train to visit another friend – it’s safe to say one of my very best friends. We’ve known each other for close to ten years (wow, I’ve never done the math here) and she knows me better than most people. She’s someone I can tell all my dark and/or silly secrets knowing she won’t judge me. I can get drunk or smoke too many cigarettes or get up in the morning looking how you do when you get up in the morning knowing she won’t judge me. She just lets me be. She gets me to stand still. She gets me. So going to see her: it, in fact, felt like going home in a way.

III. Leaving, pt. 2

As if someone or something was reading my restlessness from my train ticket or whatever: When I was heading home, my train was late due to some construction work on the tracks – I missed my connecting train, the last one to leave the station for the night. By then, it was about 11 pm. To say I was a bit angry about that is a huge understatement. I steered towards the service point (to the big dismay of the lady sitting inside the booth) and told her the story. I would have liked to do some yelling, really, but I didn’t, because I knew the people who deserved the yelling in the first place were lying in their cozy beds right then – unlike the lady here and me, involuntarily night owling in the train station. She placed me in a hotel nearby for the night and handed me the information for possible trains I could take the next morning. So I was staying on the road for a bit longer. And although I was angry, because my plans for the next morning were being messed up (like going to university – things you’d do on a Monday morning unless you miss your train), I didn’t really mind not sleeping in my own bed for another night.

Now, it’s 6:30 am and (finally), I’ve been sitting in my (next to last) train home for about an hour. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch my connecting train for once (I do have the generous amount of 7 minutes to do so, which I’m absolutely thrilled about). If I had more time on my hands, I wouldn’t mind doing the extra traveling, in fact. I find it soothing – the very act of moving (on a train, bus, plane) gives me a comforting feeling. Like it’s okay to be a little restless. While being on the road, there’s no need for any attachments after all. It’s normal not to feel at home. Because you’re not. And yet, I feel more at home on a train, bus, plane at times, than anywhere else. Whoever finds some irony in any of the statements above – well, keep it.

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