“At the Rail Yard”, color pencil drawing, 2017
“Santa Fe Train Station”, color pencil drawing, 2017
I live in America, the land of the car, a country where in most places you need a car to get around; public transportation leaves a lot to wish for.
I didn’t always live here, though.
I grew up in Sweden and from a very early age, I’ve had an intimate relation with trains. My parents separated when I was four years old and my brother and I stayed with our dad, but every other weekend or so, we would go visit our mother.
At first we would go on a bus to where she lived, but when she moved to another city in another part of the country, train was the main transportation.
My memories of trains and travelling are vivid, although somewhat fogged now by the filter of time, but I still get a strange nostalgic, warm feeling of adventure, nervousness and anticipation every time I see a train. That feeling is still with me from all those years ago…
It’s been years now since last I rode on a train, but now that I live in Santa Fe, I see the Rail Runner all the time, and since I’m just a few blocks away from the rail yard , I pass by those old train carts parked down by the train station all the time.
I will always remember those journeys my older brother and I went on when we were boys. Both of us nervous about getting on that train all by ourselves, both of us anxious to see our mother. We’d stock up on candy and comic magazines and watch the scenery outside the window. That cart they pushed down the isles, selling candy and soda’s, people getting on and off at the stops in all those small towns along the way…
I was always nervous when it was time to change trains which we had to most trips, but my older brother guided me and made sure we got to the right platform and on to the connecting train. We’d arrive to a hundred hugs and kisses, our mother was a very emotional woman, and we’d walk through the city with her and life would be good.
48 hours later, as the weekend was over, she would walk us down to the train station again and wave us off as the train started rolling away…she always ran until the end of the platform, waving and crying and we would wave and cry and press our faces against the window, until we couldn’t see her anymore. Her disappearing silhouette forever ingrained in my memory.
Every time, an emotional journey and though it wasn’t far to go – a couple of hours- it was a big deal for us…Now I live on the other side of the planet and it’s a little longer to go. My mother passed away in 1998, but my father and brother are still in Sweden and I think about them a lot. If only I could get on a train and go see them.
I miss the cradling movement of the rocking train cars, the pounding of the wheels against the rails, the conductor walking down the isle calling out the name of the next station, checking the passenger’s tickets…seen now in the rear view mirror of time, it seems magical somehow…