When I grow up, I will settle down near the last train station on the line.
It’s where I live now, a five-minute bike ride from the last station on the Western Line. My e-bike whirls as I ride up a long concrete pathway lined with rails.
Sometimes the train whooshes right past me, hurtling towards the station faster than I. Inviting me for a race, urging me on.
Sometimes, there is nothing there yet. An empty, echoing train station. The orange-vested man, sweep sweep sweeping the concrete in front of the bench. The rare passenger pacing along the platform.
But often, I see the train. Sitting. Watching my efforts with its buggy eyes. Beckoning.
I rarely check the train times. Where’s the fun in that? So I see this train, sitting, smoking: and I have no idea when it will leave. It is my wish—nay, my mission—to be on it, tucked next to my bike, before it leaves.
Easier said than done.
I peel into the platform opposite from the train doors. I’ve got to shovel my long bike into the elevators, ride the rickety bump-bump-bump grind, get out, bound across the bridge, back into another dusty elevator, back down, try to balance the heavy bike against my hip as I use both hands to dig through my pack for my AT Hop card, I slam the poor card against the tag on machine, leap into the train doors and lean my bike against the folded seats.
All the while, having no idea when the train will take off.
It’s happened, before, that I leap into the doors right as they close, and I’ve got barely enough time to lean my bike against the seats before we’re off.
In these instances, I feel like quite the badass. Mission accomplished, in the nick of time!
More often than not, however, it goes like this:
I feel the conductor’s eyeballs following my hectic scramble out the elevator doors, across the concrete bridge, back into the elevator. I feel the gaze of the ticket collector, as my bike tips over while I’m digging through my bag. I leap and bound, from the tag-on sensor, into the doors, and I’m breathless and jazzed and—
the train doesn’t leave for another eleven minutes.
There is no justification for a scramble like what I’d just performed. I do not feel like a badass. I feel like a fool.
But that feeling, I find, is amusing.
Which is why I would like to settle down near the last stop on the line! I like feeling like a badass. I like feeling amused.
It’s a win-win!
At this particular Western Line train station, there is a lovely little cafe, where connoisseurs of fine espresso drinks and rural Kiwi accents—as rural is it can get in the western hills of Auckland—can sip from ceramic cups and share the breeze with loved ones and hungry birds. I come here often as a sort of research. When the train comes, so much can happen in a little sitting; passengers leap from the seats and tag on, shoving themselves into the doors. Who knows when the train will leave? Only those who check the time tables! And where’s the fun in that?
The train whistles, things move quickly, cups abandoned, tickets checked—
then nothing. The train sits. We all sit. The noises fade. It’s a concentrated sort of stimulation, exciting and easy to digest.
The train also ushers forth a variety of interesting people for me to stare at. People who don’t seem to check the train times, either.
I see them run down the platform, hair flopping, coats flapping, their hands wanting so badly to wave, “wait for me!” to the conductor. I see them shove twitchy fingers into bags and dig around for AT Hop cards. I see them jam the cards against the ticket reader, then leap into the train doors.
I see the train sit there. For another minute. Or seven. Or eleven. And I get to imagine the look on their faces as they feel the fool.
As I watch them, as I visualize what I myself look like, I think about how this is for many portions of my life. That I rush someplace, race towards a goal, because I don’t know when it’s going to leave. That’s what happened with the 100-miler. With moving to Indonesia. With signing an au pair contract. With…other things that don’t come to mind.
I can’t tell if this is a positive metaphor. One of those: sometimes you have to jump at the chance, despite the effects of feeling the fool! Despite the people making fun of you! Telling you to just calm down, man!
Or if it’s shaming rushing and racing around as something heart-pumpingly pointless. That I can just chill; if I miss the train, I shall take the next one.
And, of course, perhaps there is no judgement attached to this metaphor. That it simply is what tends to happens.
All that I know for certain, is when I grow up—if I’m not skinning my own vegetables in a cave somewhere in northern Scotland with my german shepherd, Tarzan Lord Greystoke, and I can quell the nausea that surrounds the prospect of living in a sizable city with its inevitable road-only running—then I shall live near the end stop of the train.
Although. Not so sure about that “settle down”.
Peace and blessings,
P.S. You know what? I just made up my mind: I think this is very much an F-PATIENCE kind of situation: you got NO time, man. GET THERE. It’s a win-win.