I’m currently on my way to New York City, on the train. We’re currently passing through a lovely town off a bay by New London, CT. The boats are all lined up in rows, moored to the decks, although it won’t be long before they’re set free for the summer. With all their silly names, “Irish Mist,” “Prime Cut,” “Shaw’s Ideal,” etc., etc.
It’s a beautiful spring day, although the land is still adorned in colors of yellow and brown, punctuated by ribbons and coasters of deep blue. Punctuated by islands of cement, of rusting track, of quaint white beach houses and aging factories. Industrial ugliness in one second, followed by quaint New England rentals the next.
We’re currently traveling over a bridge. I think of Josie. The train moves forward with small lurches and heaves. There is about a foot of space between train and girders. She’d be scared to death, she would. She would have closed her eyes and grabbed my hand, and I would have laugh, and called her silly, but she wouldn’t have opened her eyes until we had made our way to the other side.
I think of Josie. Even now, when the gap between us is so wide, when the only thing that we’re able to manage in the way of communication is a sullen silence, or angry dialogues about who’s sounding colder, or who was wrong, or why what the other person said was inappropriate.
I think of how we left. Standing outside the train terminal. I placed my bags by the curb and glanced over in her direction, looking so tired, so exhausted, sitting in the passengers side seat with her head down. And I thought, “Should I just leave? Did we say already goodbye? Does she want me to leave? Does she just want me to walk away? And how can I just walk away? How can I do that?”
I remember the first time that I went on a trip of any substance away from the family. I was leaving for a week, to travel to Southeastern Massachusetts. It was just Kayla and Krista at that time. I could barely get through the goodbyes without crying. I missed them so damn much. The thought of leaving Josie, Kay, Krista just tore through my soul. And I said goodbye to Josie and we just held each other and cried.
Now, cut to nine years later. Standing on the curb, uncertain whether I should even think of saying goodbye, or whether we had said all there was to say. Whether I should hope that during the next three days we would find kinder words for each other, whether I could greet her with a smile, and whether she could look into my eyes, and I would not see pain there, and she would not keep her head lowered, and we would talk and touch and hold each other and I can’t continue with this because goddammit I’m on a train surrounded by people and if I start to cry now it’s going to look a little odd…
She gets out of the car and quickly moves to give me a hug and brief peck on the check. “Have fun in New York City,” she mumbles.
I want so much to hold her. I don’t want to leave; I don’t want to go, not like this, not with her so angry. I want to beg her, please lets just talk about this for a few more minutes, please, please, maybe we can find some way out of this maze, but I know that she feels that talk is futile, that the conversation, the dialogue, is over, that we need to move on.
So instead, I don’t know what to say. And the only thing I can think of saying is, “You’re so cold.”
And she laughs, very bitterly, and she ignores me, as she’s teaching herself to do. And then she turns and walks to the other side of the car, to drive off.
I wish that I could stop her, and I start forward once, in anger, furious that she can be so hard.
But then I stop, and control myself, because that’s truly not what I’m feeling.
And then I start forward again, hoping to talk calmly.
But then I stop. For good. And I turn around and head toward the terminal.
I know that I should be working on Amelia, or working on critiquing the chapters. But I suspect that I shall not be doing much of either on this train ride. It’s so hard to focus these days. I’m so tired. Will I ever be able to focus again?
Hopefully it will continue to be a pleasant view and bright and sunny. Hopefully all the things I see, the yellow buses, the firs, the storage sheds, the bridges, the retirement villages, the farmer’s fields, the tired looking pick-up trucks, the felled trees, the highways, the signs, the stairs, the man in an orange coat staring out at the water, the power plants, the telephone wires, the train attendant in her blue uniform walking up and down the aisle, the gurgling baby, the businessman working on a presentation, the tractors, the cemetery full of fallen heroes, the stalks of wheat, the spindles, the mulch. Hopefully these will help me to forget.
God, please help me to forget. Perhaps it would be best if I just remembered her the way that she is now, so hard, so angry at every word that comes out of my mouth. Perhaps that would make it easier.
No. No. It won’t. I can never forget the happier times.
Perhaps I need to take a tip from Josie, and close my eyes as we cross this bridge. And not look down as we cross over this gaping chasm that is threatening to swallow us whole. And not look back, either, at what we’re leaving behind. Be strong, close your eyes, know that you’ll get through; no matter what bumps and shakes you may endure.
I just wish that I had her hand to hold. I just wish that I had her next to me, teasing me, telling me it’s going to be all right.
We’re pulling in to New Haven, Ct, right now. I want so badly to call her.