the overnight train, a lifetime later

I am riding the rails all night tonight, traveling for work. It takes me back a decade or more, when I used to sleep on trains or in train stations all the time.

I was usually cold and nervous or fighting for space from some huge Russian guy or obnoxious German woman and her loud kids. The trains were stuffy and my backpack was always too heavy and I was always worried that I would go hungry, so had bought lots and lots of food before I left. I was headed towards rural Romania or Venice or out to rural blown up Croatia, which was also going home, which seems so weird now.

I also loved every moment of it.

Tonight I will have my own compartment, paid for by the company (I am flying home tomorrow afternoon). I will be on an expense account, though have already packed extra food because, well, I am still terrified of getting hungry on a train. I will take a taxi when I get in to Helsingborg, and I will take that taxi to a corporate office building.

And I do not want to go. I keep trying to build up the romance, but I would rather stay at home with the screaming sick baby and the fussy toddler and my wonderful wife. I think my trip to India last spring killed the buzz. India was magic but I thought the plane flights would be cool and liberating for a relatively new dad. They were not.

But who knows, maybe the romance of the rails will reassert itself tonight. Maybe I need to get a little chilled and slump down in a corner of the waiting room first, then buy too much food and haul a huge backpack to the corporate office. Maybe I will be rocked to sleep in that solo compartment. For four hours, until I have to switch trains. Then I am second class all the way …


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