I have a bunch of places on my mail route where I have to cross a dormant railroad track.
I slow down each time I cross it…look both ways…and then remember that it’s been years since a train has come down them. I guess that safety is a hard habit to break.
They are as brown and rusty on top as any piece of metal unused will get.
They are an unshiny track.
They hold all the promise of movement that a train track provides…they give the illusion of something going somewhere, but they are just a metal line going off into the distance.
It’s just an underlining of something that doesn’t happen anymore.
There are people who have built large homes around the lake that abut the dead track.
My wife and I wonder how appealing the million dollar homes will be if the trains ever start running again.
I guess that’s confidence…they must feel that once it’s all gone down that it’s never coming back again.
We will see.
This track isn’t really dead. I shouldn’t say that. It’s just not being used at the moment.
They haven’t pulled this track yet and sent the steel off to China. It still has a chance of carrying a train again.
Veering off into metaphoric nirvana, I don’t want to be those tracks.
I don’t want to give the illusion of movement…or to be a reminder of what used to be.
I want to have some shine on my surface.
I want people to have to look both ways when they cross me.
I don’t want to be taken for granted.
A friend and I took a road trip across the country when I was in my early 20’s.
I remember sitting on a big dune in the Sand Hills in Nebraska.
This is an area that’s different from anywhere I’ve ever been…miles and miles of…well, sand hills for lack of a better description…big dune like hills….with no ocean in sight.
I remember sitting up on the hills eating a bologna sandwich that had gone instantly bone dry in the humidity free air…and seeing a train off in the distance. It was a pretty good ways off, but there was something different about the way we were seeing this train.
We sat there for a moment, watching this train move across the land in front of us…and then both realized at the same time…“I can see the whole train”.
From engine to caboose, we could see the whole train stretched out straight off somewhere in the Nebraska prairie.
We were both from the East…the mythical “East” that’s romanticized so often (kidding)….and the view of a “whole train” wasn’t something that we were used to.
We were used to seeing it bit by bit when it came around a corner…but seeing it “all together and completely” was a new thing for us.
Lately, I’m realizing how little of the “train” I usually can see.
I can look behind me and see as much of where I’ve been as the curve allows.
I can look forward and see as much as I can imagine lies around the next curve.
I don’t see the whole train from where I’m standing.
I guess the secret to it all is to just try to keep the train on the tracks…and try to keep the tracks shiny.
Seeing the whole train is a nice memory, though…maybe I’ll have a chance to try that again someday.