Memories of Motion
it's the thought that counts
I was technically not on a train trip — I had just got back from a train trip, but instead of heading home I hung out in the yard for awhile to let myself change over from train time to real time.
The Oakland SP yard, though geographically centered in an incredibly dense metropolitan area, can seem devoid of any human activity at times. I suppose that if I was confronted by the Bull I might try the response that I'm really not planning on hopping a train, all the while carrying a pack and water jug. I toyed with that idea while I kicked back against a stack of old ties in the Desert Yard.
After riding for several days from Oakland to Ogden, then Salt Lake to Denver and back, I could honestly say that I wasn't sure if I wanted to go home or hang out here. Part of me looked forward to a shower and clean clothes, but another part felt like continuing to travel, with no destination in mind. The more I thought about it, the more I lost sight of the past and future, and could only function in the "now", as goofy as that sounded.
I took my boots off and withdrew another bottle of very room temperature White Port from my pack. Leaving the scanner off, I just wanted to remain in this weird state I was in to see what might develop. I could pack up my gear and walk out of the freightyard to begin my trip home, or I could just stay where I was and seek inspiration from the White Port. Initially there was no desire to pack up my stuff, so I just leaned back against my pack and watched clouds drift by.
This was pretty much the same spot I waited for a train to begin my trip, but the difference now was that I wasn't waiting for a train. Same clothes, same pack, same spot, but the "waiting for a train" part was missing, possibly because that was a process that occurred in the future, and I was only occupied in the present. How weird! I wondered what I would do if a train suddenly came out of the yard.
As pleasant as it was in my worryless stupor, I tried to imagine what might transpire if I couldn't shake it off, and I was forced to go through Life with no "plan" for the Future, such as it was. Thoughts manifested themselves of coming to an intersection in my car and suddenly stopping because I didn't know where I wanted to go next, or entering a grocery store and being unable to figure out what to buy.
Fortunately the White Port was there to "ground" me, but I still felt like I was on train time, with no clear idea of if the day was winding down or just getting started. I tried to imagine a constructive use for the state I was in but none came to me, except the obvious that it was a great way to while away the hours in a freightyard. Getting up to pee brought me out of the "present" tense long enough to wonder almost aloud what I would do if a train came by.
Another sip of Port and I thought up a plan for the Present — if a train came before I finished the White Port I'd take it, and if nothing showed up I would pack up and leave the yard. This process required an amount of brain activity that made me think I felt a headache coming on. Sitting back down and re-uniting myself with the Port I looked up at the clouds and thought about how strange it was to be the middle of the Bay Area with only clouds and White Port to think about. There was no urgency to finish the wine, just the awareness of a very slight cooling breeze blowing off the Bay.
When the wine was gone, I chucked the bottle under some weeds and began to pack up my gear. Straining to hear the faintest sound of engines in the distance, I glanced at my watch and was surprised to see that I had been sitting there for almost four hours! I thought about all of the people working in the Financial District in San Francisco and the thousands (or millions) of dollars they must have made in the last four hours. I stopped to pick up a rusted railroad spike that was bent into a U-shape and immediately forgot about the people in San Francisco. I took my pack off and stuffed the spike into a pocket, then made my way out of the freightyard and headed home.