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Train Riding: Moments of Time

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Do you ever have seemingly trivial and evidently meaningless memories dwell in your mind? I think of some train rides in England. It was 30 years ago and I sat across from a pregnant woman and her daughter, who was about 10 or 11. The mother chatted about the baby's arrival and general plans for changing the house about and I ached and ached knowing that I would never find out about that baby, who is now, if all have prospered, a young man or woman.

On another trip I sat across from an elderly couple. They looked posh but a bit dingy. He had on what looked like a really decent jacket--but it was clearly old. I wondered if they had declined into shabby gentility. He was wearing a tie, and it looked like an "old-school" tie but I do not now nor did I then know the codes.

I'm taken by faces on the platforms or by people queuing in lines. My mind's eye takes a mental photograph and I remember them years later. Decades later. I am pierced with the pang that nothing will return again.

Spark People is a somewhat transient place. I read a Spark Page and I make a Spark Friend and I invest myself emotionally in that person and that person will sometimes disappear and I will never know again what happened to his or her quest. I hope that all is well. I still think of some Spark Names and hold them close to my heart.

These affinities can be a bit strange. Why should I remember with vivid clarity a person who has not signed in for over a year when there are so many others? Why am I struck by some people who I only have had a ghost of a glance at?

Letting go of the need for permanence is a good way to let go of the need for excess food. Knowing that I will never know the end of the story is a good training for old age and inevitable loss.

June 30 is a day on which I wax philosophical. My father died on this day in 1976. And my beloved old Maine Coon cat died on this day in 2001. Images and dates are pinned to my mind. When my father died the old movie "Show Boat" was on the television in the waiting room of the hospital. And how I longed for him to be able to see it! He loved old musicals and I wanted him to be alive, singing along, or whistling along!
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    emoticon the West Highland Line.
    1748 days ago
    Ah yes, memories of all sorts, the apparently meaningless and the should-be's of import... Today is - would have been - my 35th wedding anniversary. We had planned to have holidays for our anniversaries. Such foresight from a couple of kids who had no foresight at all...
    1753 days ago
    Exquisite sensibility, train of thought and juxtapositions, as always. How wonderful it would be to have a finely-bound collection of your writing.
    1755 days ago
  • LE7_1234
    You write so beautifully. I love getting the notice from SP that you've posted something new--even if it takes me a few days to actually read it!

    I always find June 30th to be a good day for introspection. Not only is it half-way through the year, it's my birthday. :-)

    1755 days ago
  • 4CYNDI
    This is a very poignant blog. I love that you remember lives that have touched yours, even in passing. Thank you for sharing such great memories.

    It is tough when friends, even electronic ones, leave without a word. I always hope for the best with them and hope they are having a great life. There are some that I still miss who have not been active for a very long time as well. I think this happens over the years. However, perhaps because of this, I've made new friends along the way.

    1755 days ago
    This is a lovely blog, even if it was a bit sad. Actually, I think sadness is part of the loveliness of life. As you point out, nothing is permanent-our lives are by nature transient, with people and situations flowing in and out of our stream. Even when things seem the same, when we feel stuck in a rut, nothing truly is the same.

    You struck a chord with me. I feel as though I have snapshots lodged in my mind, with the most motley collection of bits collaged throughout. Why is that image of a young man with lovely, long blond hair and sky-high boots still in there, years later? Whatever happened to him? I will most likely never know. He is part of my tapestry now, and I do not know where his thread ends.

    I can feel the love you had/still have for your father. Many thanks for your thoughts, and for sharing your feelings. It was lovely.
    1756 days ago
    My Dad took us all over England on steam trains. We would wait in the station for a specific one, which would be pulled by an engine he wanted to photograph. I still love steam to this day. i also remember people on journeys, or seen from the bus, and look at houses in passing and think how sad it is that I will never know the people living there.
    1756 days ago
    Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I think it's part of a vivid and active mind that you remember these strangers. I have to think about the connection between desiring permanence and food, though. I have a hard time with the transient nature of people and have never thought about this connection.
    I think you captured the great loss of your father with the image you created with the contrast of your deep sadness and the musical. Thanks again.
    1756 days ago
    Not strange feelings to me at all... Remember vividly people from my childhood that I just saw glancingly (as a quiet child I listened a lot and could be guaranteed to know more of what the conversations were at next door tables or in other groups than anything said to me). And then had "day-dreams" about them and their lives. And the memories of your father dying also touch a chord. My father was ill from when I was about eight and mostly at home. He died at home. The first time I really really sobbed about it (though there were lots of tears both before and after he died) was when I saw the movie The Railway Children. Can almost still start crying when think of them at the station seeing their father again (though can't remember much else of the story) and thinking I never would.
    And the wonderful glimpses of people on these pages - including of you - and knowing that while we may never actually meet they are as Anne of Green Gables said kindred spirits...
    1756 days ago
    All I can say is that I loved this blog post.

    What a coincidence that you referenced trains and used that wonderful British Transport poster and mentioned that June 30 was the anniversary of your father's passing.

    MY father was crazy about trains (particularly steam engines) and his home office was almost wallpapered in reproduction London Transport posters.
    1756 days ago
  • PATRICIA4472
    I think it has something to do with the life of the imagination and an eclectic reader will have this inclination to peek into the lives of others, remember scenes, wonder what life the unborn child in the train now lives.... We are captured by these things and they stay with us / live in us, too...
    1756 days ago
  • POPSY190
    I don't always know why seemingly trivial incidents stay in my mind whereas I can hardly remember some more significant ones. (I've just read Sarah's comment - snap!). I've always found rail/road crossings have a strange effect on me - as if the people in the two forms of transport are in completely different worlds.
    1756 days ago
    I've had similar thoughts about people I've seen only briefly or known for a short time through Spark People. I was thinking the other day about a little girl I used to babysit for while I was 10 or 12 years old. She is probably almost 60 years old by now. What a strange thought.
    1757 days ago
    I don't think it is odd to feel this way or have these memories. I remember as a child the realization that things pass...the leaves on a tree, the slant of light on a particular a very melancholy thing. I think that this inspires artists/writers to attempt to capture things in whatever medium they can...

    And it's precious to have these things in your memory. Why do some moments remain and others do not...sometimes supposedly insignificant ones remain...we'll never know. But is anything really insignificant?

    I love the picture of "Show Boat" and your dad's love for it.
    1757 days ago
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