On my way
This Friday I just so happened to get stuck on a train for 9 hours when it was only supposed to be 4. Because of that, I only had time, a huge bladder, and an apprehended hunger to consider. Everything else, due to the fact that we were in Romania, was anyone’s unfounded guess. I spent the first hour listening to people’s theories on why are we not moving, who is coming to help, is somebody coming to help, though, whose political party’s fault was it exactly, and how somebody’s daughter’s train got stuck in the snow for 9 hours before somebody realized they needed help. I did not open my mouth for the entire ride since, if you truly know me, I hate small talk in the slightest. My surroundings consisted of a man that was living in Spain, a grandma trying to get to her nephews, and a mother visiting her daughter in Bucharest. Across of me, I had this funny, old man that started selling his pretzels ten times the normal price since he saw the opportunity of complete starvation on the train. I mean, opportunity does sound a bit sadistic, but I recognize a true entrepreneur when I see one since, no matter when, some of us were still going to make it off that train and you might as well do it will a little more cash.
After two hours passed with no apparent hope of moving, I got up, asked my kind neighbors to look after my bag, and went to light up a cigarette at the end of the hallway. If you are not from Romania and get amazed at exactly where we are allowed to smoke, I will just say that anywhere is an understatement. Even if it was quite ironic for me to inhale rubbish, the air from outside was profoundly embracing. Of course, they do not cancel each other, but I didn’t exactly have a lot panned out for this trip. All I had were a few pages left from Frankenstein, a TV show that made me feel utterly uncomfortable about myself, and, ultimately striking up a conversation with a few people I seemed to have nothing in common. While I was smoking and incessantly pressing the button to keep the door open, I saw a couple of bare-foot people running on the train tracks near our train in the light rain. In that moment, I seemed to have remembered way too many deadly scenes in movies where people try to escape the police by running on the tracks and end up electrocuting themselves. However, my panic was stupidly formulated since we were not moving for a reason. The tracks got inundated by the neighboring river, or should I say, the tiniest swamp that grew bigger by the drop of this violating rain, and the power eventually got cut off by who knows. The people were safe. I realized they were trying to get on the train without a ticket, but at that point, why would you want to get on a halted train? You are better off outside of it making a go at a direction of your choice. Most of us were confined to a ticket promising a destination.
I came back to my sit. The man living in Spain went on an expedition to find out when were we going to start moving again. If taken out of this boring context, both of my right and left view seemed cut from an Amazonian forest. Granted, we were a long way from that part of the world, but at that point, we were a long way from anything or anyone. I realized in that moment that a younger version of me would have demanded an explanation, an apology, or would start walking on her own to Bucharest. She would have been this livid, frustrated, justice-seeking girlie that needed things to go her own way since my plans for that night got thrown out the window in that combination of this Amazonian with Romanian forest. All was left were my thoughts and nothing else. It is quite scary to come to think that nothing is under your control anymore, especially in such a country where interference by nature is left up to fate.
Where was I going exactly? Why was I going? Who are these people and why did they happen to sit near me and be my compatriots of suffering and conspiracy theories of why we got stuck in the rain? Why was I all alone again, in the country I wept for months on end?
Somehow, we started moving again. For the next five kilometers. Then we stopped. Again. For another two hours.
At that point, secluded from any sort of civilization, my mind gave up and went to get some air. There were other trains which got cut off, encouraging people to get on ours if they wanted to make it to Bucharest this year. This is how, in the span of fifteen minutes before us starting and stopping again, a frightening number of people entered the train in the dead of the night. The only scary part of this is that the windows were sealed and the air was limited. I figured that I will go smoke another cigarette while stiflingly discovering some other theories about our dream ride. While there were three of us, mostly young adults that seemed to keep to this situation rather patiently, somebody called from behind to make way. A group of about five people, together with their luggage, jumped off the train and started walking in the North. I had to blink twice to understand.
A group of five people decided to embrace the pouring rain and make it on their own be that as it may. There was nobody to stop them and I wouldn’t exactly understand why you would try to do that. I threw my cigarette somewhere on the tracks and went back to my sit where two other people joined from the adjacent train. Fine people, not too talkative, but rather fatigue and tired because of this uncharted territory. In this parallel universe that I live, the USA, the American Dream, riding this bald eagle that I feed from the top of my hand, this would have never been a possibility. I was debating how I would present this sort of episode to one of my American fiends (you read that right) without making it sound too supernatural. But then, my all surrounding thoughts grappled me.
I wanted to be back home so badly. It never occurred to me that whatever I was reminiscing in my cold dorm about a life I left behind was also fondled with hardships such as a train that simply won’t move. It may sound exaggerated and that is probably what I am going for, but it hit me while I was breathing in slowly as the condensed air in our compartment was burning my nostrils, that which I may have forgotten. I was born here, among my own folk forever displaying a certain sadness on their faces. A struggle comprising the iris, wrinkled hands from too much physical, plain, painful work. An intriguing aura, hell, even traditional. It was there, rooted in the inundated fields that once knew glory. At that point in time, on this train, nobody was richer, nobody was smarter, nobody was born any luckier. Who cared where I was actually going?
The train started moving after five insatiable hours. I let out a sigh and smiled to the pity party I was now part of. The man across tilted his head back toward me and simply asked. “It’s good you are going back to America, eh?”