Thursday, February 26, 2009

Train from Ankara

I am out of the city now, away from the hustle and flow of life. In the background is Turkish folk music, the constant strumming of guitars, the sad painful song, moaning the sun behind the distant hills and rows and rows of farming tracts. I dosed through the erratic transition between sweltering, jumbled, madness that is a living city and the light, sleepy, slowness of the countryside. The stark light, tan mounds, browns, and cloudless blue skies seem to be awkward and desolate and beautiful all at the same time.
The train rolls on, rocking back and forth, lurching and shaking as if it has some kind of illness it cannot explain. Small clouds dot the sky now and the sun seems to be plowing through them in an unhurried nomadic way, having done its job for the day and retreating to some other place and time. I have slowed down as well. I feel rested and young and indifferent. The ungodly tossing and turning that has plagued me for a week while stopped, has ended and I am painfully aware of being lolled to sleep while moving.
My stomach is full of things that make the whole world I am visiting more surreal. Gifts that are appreciated more while in the belly of the desert, or the long expanse of plain. Melon, sweet bread and water shared by the family in my sleeper car. We do not communicate with words but we are travelers, moving through the world together for a time, and that is enough to bond us.
It is not all space and dust out here. Technology raises its many faceted head in the distance, diffracting light and peace and simpleness, detracting from its surrounding, a cellular tower. A Muslim woman is out feeding chickens. She is probably a decendent from many other women who stood and fed the relations of the chickens pecking around her feet. Hopefully she never realizes what the cell tower bodes. Her man is stuck between rows of cabbages, endlessly toiling for his family, weeding. Another house in the distance and a man raises his arm in a forlorn salute and waves it from his front porch not in greeting but to say goodbye to things and people he will never see. As the train passes him everything is soft, muted, tan and brown.
All the thoughts of whats ahead have been thought and discarded. As long as the train continues on its path I will continue along mine. This train is my destiny for the moment. The quiet before the storm. The path of the train is easy and meandering without deviation except for the lurch and roll, though that too is constant. Maybe the lurch and roll is the trains unhappy way of dealing with the smoking tendrils of thought about life on a straight path. The whisper of a life of freedom and choice.
The train has the same choices as its passengers, to stop or to go, to be or not, for good or not. To close our eyes or to have them opened. I fear for those who have their eyes closed. What will happen when they miss the transitions that life has put before them. Will they be able to adjust to the stark difference of their own reality, of where they were to where they ended up? Will they be able to see how they arrived there?
The sun is setting and is half gone. Just sitting on the rim of the earth making the sky turn liquid, chaotic and crazy. The moon its cousin has made its first appearance now. It seems like a good sign that tonight it will be full and bright in the southern part of the world. Another good sign reaches me from the dining car; the smell of spices and food being prepared. The atmosphere is musky and light, and, ominous and dark all at the same time. It is an emotional thing this train and for awhile I look at the emotions around the train painted like the liquid sky, chaotic and crazy.
Some passengers look anxious to reach a destination, maybe any destination, while others look onto their final destination with trepidation and loathing. A few, like myself, have no idea where the train is going and do not chance to wonder about it. Our only thoughts are of where we are at. What is happening outside those dark windows under that full moon.
Outside of this pent up emotional vehicle a dark slow landscape passes by. It barely takes note of our passing and we barely have a chance to process it. Just more strangers meeting in someplace they thought they would never see each other. Still the music plays on, the mournful voice sings her fears to us and to the dark abyss outside. It makes me feel alone for a spell because I do not understand the words, so I do not understand her worry. Though this passenger feels alive because of it. To be someplace that I have never been before, sitting here with only my thoughts to keep me company.
I could jump from the train right now and be lost to the world forever. I do not though. I roll two cigarettes for me and the night porter. For now this is my home, my path, and the only place I want to be. This train from Ankara.

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