Night Train

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.


3 Comments on “Night Train”

  1. samlowephoto says:

    Oh, the richness of life, missed thanks to convenience…

    I used to leave my office job on the Jersey Shore early on Tuesdays and Thursdays, hurry to a nearby Jersey Transit train station, and ride for an hour and 45 minutes into Penn Station, New York, then walk for 5 blocks to a kung fu studio. All in all, I was a student for 12 years.

    I would attend two classes back-to-back, then get something to eat, usually Korean food because it was nearby, before hoofing it late to catch the train that would bring be back to the shore by nearly 12:30am. Battered and exhausted, both from a day of work that drained me of a certain kind of hope and from an ancient discipline that pummeled it back into me, I’d then drive home to sleep before waking at 7 for the day’s repeat.

    That train ride home… a blur of industrial acetylene light, the unmistakable scents of north Jersey and dirty train station stops… surreal in my memory.

    Take good notes on every trip. They’re all precious. And save a few pennies for the day rides. Click away with your camera phone. Don’t lose it all to the night.

    • The scene you described is one shared by many up East, however, I suspect that many fail to pummel back in the hope that is drained away. Down here in the sun-belt, car-obsessed cities of the South, this same scene plays out, however we lock ourselves away into the comfort of our automobile. Locked behind muffled glass and steel from garage to garage, some days there is nothing in between. Or rather there is, it’s just not experienced.

      “And save a few pennies for the day rides.”

      Me gusta. I will do so indeed. Most definitely.

    • And thank so much for reading. Stick around a bit. [wink, wink]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s