Friday, March 27, 2009

Trains make me nostalgic...

Trains make me nostalgic.
I've gone on a weekend trip to Toulouse : approximately 200 km away and three hours and a half of train trip because the train stops at about every possible station along the railroad.
And trains always have the same effect on me : they make me nostalgic.
I feel as if they're always chasing time in an always-failing effort to catch up on it. And we embark upon them to make a journey through the past, in the present or towards the future.
The feeling itself is hard to explain but I love trains.
I love sitting back and watching the view, especially when leaving from Perpignan up north because you invariably cross Leucate and its "├ętang".
When on a train, I become submerged by memories. Not mine because they are memories that I can't have for I haven't grown up here, but memories of time.
As the train speeds past castles with weird, old towers and fresh new swimming pools built in their gardens, I think of ancient times. How difficult it must have been to travel by horse, carriage or by foot. How long those kilometers - blurred under my feet by the speed - must have been or seemed to the travelers.
Attending a sick relative living hundred kilometers away was like a trip to the North Pole - and undertaken with about the same enthusiasm I suppose...
But today, we complain if we never leave on a weekend trip, fly up to 1400 km just to wish and celebrate a Happy Birthday and get oh-so-angry at a half-hour delay.
It seems to me we have evolved into mighty-spoiled brats, haven't we?

Narbonne station - twenty minutes stop. People complaining - again - that "it takes so long to get from A to B" and "trains ... always late... it's the government's fault..." or "why does it get to a stop so far from the entrance we came in?"
Spoiled, selfish little creatures? ...
I throw my eyes to heaven and imagine them four hundred years ago, in a skin coat, ploughing through a meter fifty of snow to hunt on a hare they'd never catch...
We are completely unaware of the easiness of our century. Certainly, there are troubles, there are dramas and catastrophes but they have always existed. Humans were just unaware of most of them before technology.

The train starts moving again. Backwards. I spot a large, a huge building that recalls a memory - truly mine this time - : I was twelve or so, and we had come from Belgium on a holiday here. We were riding past Narbonne when I saw a large building. I thought it was a university or so. It was a football or rugby stadium. And from the top of my voice, the twelve-year old that I was declared solemnly: "when I grow up, I'll teach English Literature here!"
"Fat chance" my mother may have thought. So would I if I had been conscious of my words.
But Destiny is a strange creature : it gets nasty and growls when you try to pet it but comes laying on your lap, purring, when you're not expecting it.
Here I am, more than ten years later and I have almost - almost - fulfilled that little twelve-year-old 's sentence. Almost. Will it come true?
Only time will tell.