Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday Ramble

There's just something about trains. When the Amtrak whizzes past not far from the house it's a barely noticeable sound, and quickly gone. Although when I hear it I still get little goosebumps. I have traveled by train and enjoyed it a lot.

But when the freight trains rumble by the house, it's much louder, and for a much longer time. The sound stirs such funny feelings within me - very poignant nostalgia, and thoughts of me as a little girl in my Grandmother's old Victorian house in a small town in Ohio, and falling asleep in the summer with the 10 foot tall windows open and the sounds of small town life the lullaby I drifted off to. Feelings of longing and wondering, of changing and new things, and a whole big world out there waiting to be discovered.

Decades later here in Maryland I lived with my then husband on the other side of this town. We had tracks on that side of town too, and they had many street crossings to make. So as one of the freight trains passed by there was a series of whistles, the mournful moan a counterpoint to my busy and hectic life. The tracks there are located along a ridgeline, and echo across the valley to the other side. Most easily heard at night, taking me right back to my small-town home away from home at Grandmother's house.

Since the tracks behind my house here are primarily for Amtrak, there are no crossings, and no whistles from the occasional freight trains. But the rumble alone is enough to take me back, I don't have to hear the whistle. So it seems there's just something about trains in general rather than the train whistles.

I wonder if this is tied in somehow to my delight and obsession with new roads. I also wonder if this is related to my need for constant change and improvement. I know that desire for and comfort with change is not typical of other people, I just know that I always want to be a better version of myself, and seek for a better version of life for myself and those around me. Is that somehow my sense of what trains give? I don't know. It seems perhaps too convoluted. Maybe I'm applying 8 lane highway thinking to a 1 lane dirt road concept. (I'm good at that.)

I just know that when I hear a train, freight or high speed, with or without whistle, I get funny, gooey feelings inside. I feel squishy and have a sense of longing and need. Longing and need for what I couldn't possibly say. Which is why I'm trying to sort this all out.

Could just be the sense of the unknown, or something exotic and different. I really don't know. I'm not dissatisfied with who I am or what my life is, I don't need new and different. I enjoy new and different, but I'm also fine without it. I just don't understand this longing. Perhaps it's something from my childhood. I do know my Grandmother's house had a profound impact on me. It is this amazing 13 room old Victorian house with a porch swing and ghosts in the attic and all kinds of wonders old and new for my childlike mind to understand.

I had to have a front porch on the last house (the one the ex had built for me,) so I could hang a porch swing, sit, watch, and listen to the world like I did many years ago in a town almost 500 miles away. Sadly, this cottage I bought for son and me after the divorce has no front porch, and my porch swing languishes in the basement of Mom's house. The house she just sold so she can move in with my sister, so I need to decide what to do with my swing. It might help me decide what to do with the swing if I can figure out what it is about the porch swing and trains that stirs such feelings and longings in me.

I don't know. Sometimes blogging helps me discover answers as I write - not this time. Maybe some of you can help. And if not, I also know that all will be well, one way or the other, in time. It's ok not to know.



  1. I've always wanted a porch swing....been thinking of treating myself to a freestanding one instead. There's something about the motion of swinging back and forth which seems to both soothe the soul and free thoughts at the same time.

    love and hugs xxx

  2. Maybe I need to sit in my swing so I can sort out all these thought! That's it! That's the problem! I can't swing so my thoughts and feelings are all stuck up inside me. Ick!

    I still don't have a place to hang my swing, so I guess I need to figure something else out. Let me know if you get that free-standing swing, I'll come sit and swing with you and work out some of this confusion.

  3. Ahem....The train is symbolic of all the arrivals and departures in our lives, thoughts, ideas, feelings, people, opportunities. The moving train is also symbolic of being passed by and our helplessness to influence that fact. The train can be exciting because it represents new opportunities, but it can also mean sadness and nostalgia because it also represents how impossible it is for us to keep a situation static.

    Buy my book, 'The Meaning Of Trains' it's cheap cheap cheap.

  4. May I have an autographed version of your book?
    And there's a lot in your words that I need to sit with and ruminate about - I suspect you're very right in what it is that causes trains to have such an effect on me. Thanks for sharing, I really could not figure it out. Still don't have it figured out, but I suspect that after I ponder your words for awhile things will become more clear.

    After reading your comment Master mentioned the fact that trains do sometimes need to pass through tunnels - yet another layer to think on.

  5. Tapestry,

    Of course you may have a signed copy and it won't cost a penny more than the regular one. I'm good like that!

    I could actually go on and on about this particular subject, I was extremely interested in your post because it touches things that I have pondered about for years.

    If you felt able to share the results of your thoughts when you have formulated them, I would be most interested.

    Best regards as always.