Night TrainPosted: October 29, 2012
It was the night train. Boarded in Geneva after sunset and pulled into Rome at sunrise.
Chuck, chuck – chuck, chuck through Lombardia.
Rolled from side to side on the top bunk that night. At one point, I awoke to the sound of Italian immigration officers shouting and beating on the paper-thin door of the couchette. Couchette, that’s a fancy word isn’t it? Go ahead – use it three times tomorrow. Here’s one you can try “did Francis leave his pipe in the couchette?”
I remember Meatloaf doing a song about a night train. Wait, not Meatloaf. What am I thinking?
Bump, bump – bump, bump across Toscana.
It was GnR, not Meatloaf. How did I get those confused. Am I hungry?
While it is entirely possible that I dreamt about Axel Rose while rolling from side to side on the top bunk of that train, I seem to remember not sleeping much at all that night. If I did, he was shirtless, wearing some sort of cloth on his forehead and screaming something about speedin’ like a space brain. I am not saying either way. But I do remember the dark and that I couldn’t see much out the window.
Besides obvious self-indulgence and fun with geography, there was a point to this when I started…
Reliving loud-mouthed (read: sexy) Italian immigration officers? No, that’s not it.
Was I trying to impress you with my worldliness? Perhaps, but it’s Italy, which is World Travel 101.
Fell asleep in Geneva.
Clack, clack – clack, clack drifting down Lazio.
Woke up in Rome.
What was in between? Can’t tell you. I missed it.
It was the night train.
A song about a raging drunk fest by aging rock stars adept at numbing out the world and an efficient mode of transportation that gets the job done. Point A to Point B. Speeding across amazing landscapes in the dark while passengers slumber. Think about that for a second. Now, use couchette in a sentence. You feel fancier now, admit it.
I arrived at my next destination by settling into a cushy bed on the night train and propelling myself through the dark in comfort. Chuck, bump, clack. Completely and absolutely missing what passed before me. Was the silver shimmer of olive trees subtle or unmistakable? Did the fine lines of time look different upon the faces of the people? Was the air sweet or savory?
There are times when the efficiency of the night train makes sense, but I am learning about the sinister dark side to practical comfort. The principal loser being my own wanderlust, which becomes buried at the bottom of the suitcase underneath a week-old banana peel. Until some day I find myself content with blacked-out windows and earmuffs. So numbed by comforts, will I even know when it happens?
I have been on the night train which may or may not have contained images of a drunken, shirtless Axel Rose wandering around with space brain and screaming, “passaporto!” I’ll never tell. However, there was no meatloaf on board. This I assure you. Now I am learning to wander by foot. Sometimes with purpose, sometimes without. But, in the dark no more.