I’m sitting on a train on my way from Modesto, California to Sacramento. It’s an hour and a half long ride where, no matter what window you look out, all you can see is miles and miles of farmland in the expansive Central Valley. Herds of cattle and distant hills separate me from the never ending coastline that I grew up on and it still seems odd to me that I’m not land locked by purple mountains and mile high skylines.
I’m sitting on a train in transit to see family I haven’t seen in years. The last time I saw them I was different, younger, less of who I am now. The thought of seeing them fills me with relief because I still cry every morning, missing my friends, missing my home that was never really my home. I’m desperate to feel grounded in something familiar even if it’s just for a day, even if it means spending Saturday morning on a train where all I have is time to think about how much I’m unsure of.
I m anticipating my aunt asking me a million questions I know I won’t have the answers to. I know that she’ll dig past my facade of begrudging positivity at my current circumstances. I prepare myself to fight back the tears I know will come because I’m so fragile, too fragile to hold it together even for her.
I’m sitting on a train and I’m thinking about how it’s the day before Mother’s Day and being here in the place I grew up makes me miss my grandmother so much it hurts. How I wish she were alive so she could tell me it’ll all work out, even though I’ve heard my own mother say it everyday for the past 6 weeks. But if she were here, if she were saying it, I would believe her even though I can’t put my finger on why.
I’m sitting on a train and I’m sad. Because while I literally know where I’m going I have no idea about any other destination. I’m living in my worst nightmare – the unknown, and it makes me feel slightly uncomfortable even in my own skin. Even though I know that’s where the most growth happens at this age I am scared and lonely and trying my best not to resist this chapter in my life where everything is blurry and uncertain and unpredictable. I’m being forced to go with the flow even though the flow is deep and slow and in this moment feels like it’s taking me no where.
I’m sitting on a train and I’m thinking about a guy, because it would be weird not to. I’m thinking about this new thing and how I wasn’t looking for it and how I should have known that that’s when these things always find you. I can feel myself pushing against it, thinking of all the reasons why it can’t work before I even give myself a chance to see if it can. But there are so many reasons why it’s complicated and hard and maybe even slightly reckless and impulsive and depending on my mood I use those as excuses for why we should or shouldn’t jump in. We are both aware, maybe too much so, of all the trip wires in front of us and yet we’re both not ready to walk away, so eager to watch this play out even though the odds are not in our favor. But watching out the window I can’t help but think of his laugh and the crazy way we’re almost always in sync and I feel the smallest sliver of… cautious optimism which feels strangely out of place amongst all my other emotions.
I’m surprised, very surprised that one thing that hasn’t been a factor is him, the one that broke my heart. I’m so use to reading articles about how hard it is to start something when someone else has broken you down so much and I am amazed at how unbroken I feel. I am stunned, literally stunned, that thinking about him doesn’t bring me to tears the way I thought it would. Because a few months ago I would have been sitting on this train thinking of him, missing him, wondering how the emotional baggage he left me with would affect something new from growing and imagine my surprise, it’s not.
I’m sitting on a train and I am proud of myself because I am processing all these emotions without letting them drown me. A year ago even one of these things would have spelled disaster and I would have let them hold me hostage and sink me slowly. Right now, sitting here, watching as everything else passes by me I feel ok. Nothing is what I imagined, everything is uncertain and I feel ok. There’s this fire and strength that has literally taken over my body and I am handling it like a fucking solider. I am fighting with the tools I have accumulated from my early twenties and I am slaying it. I am a lot of things but who I am, what I hope to gain in these next few months is so solid that the train metaphor is not lost on me even a little. I am moving and everything around me is nothing but vast images sliding past me.
I’m sitting on a train and I’m just riding, not driving, not navigating, not worrying… just sitting and waiting for my final destination.