Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Things I think about on the way to work

As I walk into the train station and go up the stairs to the platform, I always wonder about this big stain on the stairs. It starts on a landing about midway, a tight sploosh of splattered stain, and then it’s like it got dragged down the stairs, spreading its stainy goo down about 12 steps. I swear, every time I gingerly avoid that dark spreading ick, I get an image in my head of a body being dragged by its feet down the stairs, the blood running out of a massive head wound and dribbling down towards the bottom as the head thumps along. EVERY TIME I go up those stairs that’s what pops into my head. This stain is seriously affecting my wellbeing.

Once I am on the train, and have my first sip of coffee (I always save it for once I get on the train and settled) I can let the image of dripping head wounds and thumping skulls dissipate. I love riding on the train, it totally makes me happy. Probably because I did not grow up with them, so for me it still has that great thrill of being foreign and European and kind of sophisticated. I always think of the old movies where the woman in the gorgeous suit and feathered hat swoops onto the train in a great woosh of steam and fog. (Though my entry into the train is nowhere near like that, I usually have wet hair and am just trying to balance coffee, purse, iPod and not trip over my skirt.) The trains here are awesome, incredibly quiet and smooth. You can’t hear them at all. And 80% of the time they are on time to the minute. I still can’t figure out how they do that.

The ride to work takes anywhere from 17 to 23 minutes, depending on the train you take and the stops it makes. It’s a nice time to listen to the iPod, go “nyah nyah” at all the folks stuck in traffic in their cars, and to just look out the windows and watch the ever changing view. The trip is just long enough that I see something new every day. An old house, a mill, an old farm. A rocky cliff or some kids jumping on the trampoline in the backyard. The variety of flowers that change weekly because summer here is so intense and concentrated. The way the trees change from day to day, they’ve already had their fresh spring sparkliness and are looking a little weathered, dusty and deep summery now, it’s been hot and quite dry.

Then the houses and hills clear, a view opens up and I have a glowing, reflective vision of the fjord and the hills beyond. At the entry to this bit of fjord is a very old sailing ship and an old settlement that has been taken over by a large home supplies warehouse. That same home supplies company has owned that piece of property for hundreds of years, starting out as timber shippers, then moving on to the modern day Home Depot style equivalent. It’s a great place to watch Norwegian history change and grow all in the space of a few hundred meters. The train, however, doesn’t know that I am contemplating the past and so does not slow for my convenience.

All too soon I am at my stop and toddle off to work. Then my thoughts are not my own anymore. I am paid to think about what they want me to think about. Luckily, we are copacetic on that and so the day progresses apace. At the end of the day, another train ride back home and my thoughts are once again my own.

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