THINGS ARE NEVER WHAT YOU IMAGINE: That Time On The Train

I went to visit my parents a few weeks ago. I needed to get out of town – alone. I needed some “me” time, away from the dishes, the laundry, the barking dog and the “fuck you dog, we are NOT friends” ever-hissing cats, the often angst-filled millennial children, and the basic craziness that IS work and family. Not my husband though. I never need to get away from him, because he’s awesome and brainy and athletic and super good-looking. Right now, he looks like Tom Selleck, only darker. Thanks Movember. I know he’ll read this. Hi dear!

THINGS ARE NEVER WHAT YOU IMAGINE: That Time On The Train

Anyway, I thought I’d be smart. To make it an uber-relaxing trip where I wasn’t required to drive the five and a half hours down the highway from hell (the 401 here in Canada) through “I’d rather light my feet on fire than have to do this all the time” Toronto traffic, I booked a ticket on the train. It would be tranquil; I could stretch my legs out, eat chocolate, and watch bad Netflix movies, I thought. At least, that’s how I imagined it would be. That’s the way I remembered it from when I took it ten years ago. Apparently, times have changed. Or I have changed. Or both.

Things never quite live up to the fantasy, do they? Just like when you think marriage is going to be a bed or roses – at least, that’s what you picture in your head when you are standing at the altar, about to say your vows, gazing into your beloved’s sweet face, with his chiseled jawline and his “I’ll do the dishes every day for the rest of our lives until we both die cuddled together at the age of ninety-six” demeanour. And then a few years go by, and those damn dishes are there, and he’s got that “dad” bod, and he is on his computer WAY too much for your liking.

But NOT my husband. He has never let himself go. He looks and acts the exact same way he did twenty-eight years ago when we met, only now, he can grow a semi-full moustache (blacks guys aren’t typically very hairy), and he makes WAY more money (hallelujah). Plus (and this is a godsend), he only “works” on his computer, so what if it’s is twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week? Yeah, he still drives a little too fast, and he still leaves stacks of papers and junk E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E, but that’s the way doctors are (I tell myself).

And I’d rather he was a doctor than a killer, or a drug dealer, or a taxi driver. Then again, those people probably don’t leave papers and junk everywhere (like a hoarder). And they probably drive extra careful when their wife is in the car, because they love her and they want her to be safe. OK, so maybe they wouldn’t drive so careful because killers and drug dealers and taxi drivers are always trying to get somewhere really fast. Doesn’t matter, I LOVE my husband more than a bird loves bird food in the winter, more than a homeless guy likes it when you give him a fifty dollar bill. Hi dear! I know you are reading this.

But yeah, the train wasn’t quite the way I’d imagined it to be. I got on at five-thirty in the morning, so maybe my judgement may have been a little “this is an awful time of day to be conscious” clouded. I don’t drink coffee. I had nothing to make it bearable.

The train also looked old, like it was built in the early 1900’s (which it probably was) and no one had ever thought to update it, like the seats and the carpet inside and all the other decor looked and smelled original, kind of like a thrift store. And I should know, I go to those types of stores quite often. Stuff is cheaper there, and it’s always fun when you find a “treasure”, ex. a designer sweater for $3.00, so what if it has a small rip and/or stain along the bottom hemline? Who is going to notice?

Now, you know if the furnishings and such on the train are original, then so are other things, such as the engine, and the all-important brakes. Not a good way to start my journey, in my books. Anyway, the train smelled quite musty, which meant that by about half an hour into the trip, my nose was completely stuffed up. Obviously, I hadn’t brought my trusty saline nasal spray. Why should a person need that on the train? I’ll know better next time.

It was also not the “relaxing form of travel” that trains advertise themselves to be. It was almost the exact opposite. It probably had to do with the fact that we were late getting out of the city, because they were working on the tracks about five minutes outside the station. Because of the delay, the train then travelled at (what seemed to me like) warp speed the rest of the trip, probably to “make up time” so the business people on board “wouldn’t be late”. There was one man in particular who was a real asshole about it. “I need to BE somewhere,” he yelled. Yeah, didn’t we all.

All this “speeding along the track in a train that appeared to be constructed over a hundred years ago” meant it felt like I was going to fly over an embankment or into some giant concrete building at any second – for five hours straight. As I talked to myself about the situation (because I was alone – who else was I going to talk to?), I called it the “death mobile” and I said things like, “Mandy, you are going to die in this fucking ‘death mobile’ at any moment, and you haven’t even built your dream house, owned a goat, or slept with Idris Elba yet.” I said it over and over and over again. Admittedly, I get a little crazy when I’m stressed out.

As I shot through the dark morning – clutching my legs hard and breathing shallowly, inefficiently, and almost suffocatingly, like I was having an never-ending panic attack – I tried to imagine something more fun. I tried to pretend that I was in a scene from a movie – that runaway bus one with Keanu Reeves (how he became a heart throb, I’ll never know), or the train one with Chris Pine and Denzel Washington. Sadly however, none of those guys were there to save me; there were just two old ladies on their iPads across the aisle drinking tea and talking about quilting. What were they gonna do? If there had been an accident, they would’ve died before I did. One of them keep talking about her bad heart.

Just as an aside, ladies (random ladies, sometimes ladies who are his colleagues, sometimes my very own friends) say that my husband should have been a movie star. They say that he’s extremely handsome and sexy – like a smarter Idris. (That’s questionable.) Some even say that they’d sleep with him – if I let them, of course. They say this to my face. They have no shame. To which I reply, “No, ladies. You may not. Well, maybe for a million dollars. I could use a new car. My kids have wrecked mine. And since they are HIS spawn, he owes me.” And if life is like this for me with MY husband, I can’t imagine the difficulties that Victoria Beckham must have. Now, I want you to know that I would never spew out all these niceties about my husband simply because I know for a fact that he’ll be reading this, and because I want to go on a trip somewhere warm in January – in essence, trying to butter him up. No, I would NEVER do that. Hi dear!

It’s funny the way people are, isn’t it? When I wasn’t just trying to catch my breath – because it was hard with the stress and the dust (and probably a bazillion dust mites) on the train – I ended up listening to a lady talking on her phone a few rows up. Since there were only about seven people in total in the entire car, everyone – including the two older ladies beside me – were privy to every part of this woman’s conversation, which by-the-way, was pretty interesting. She was by no means whispering or trying to keep it a secret either. I’m not completely sure, but from what I could gather, she was talking to her lover, or who I assumed was her lover. It sounded like she was married, had a few kids, and travelled a lot for work – as an actress, this day, heading to an audition. By the tone of her voice, the things she said, and the length of time that she spoke to the person on the other end of the phone, along with a declaration of “you shouldn’t be calling me [giggle, giggle, giggle]…” – and it wasn’t the sort of giggle that married ladies use, trust me – I knew for sure that she wasn’t talking to her ball and chain. Who was this guy? Did he have a job? How did he have time for a morning sex “chat” for five hours straight? Who was he? Probably some really attractive construction worker with a broken leg, who had a scruffy “I get with married women” beard, and a really cute dog. I mean, I could fall for somebody like that. OK, so my imagination gets the best of me sometimes.

Anyway, back to the speed at which this dumb train was travelling – fucking fast. Now, I’m not sure what it is – I’m guessing my age, close to fifty and all the peri-menopausal symptoms that come along with it – but I am extremely sensitive to everything these days, this ultra-high speed (to me) but probably just regular speed train ride being no exception.

So when we pulled into the station, and I was still alive, I almost kissed the dirty, moth-eaten, and carpeted floor. When they opened the door, I flew out of there, thanking the tree in my backyard that all my fingers and toes and arms and legs and neck and back still worked normally, if not a little stiffly. (My cats and kids wouldn’t survive without me. In the least, they would be very, very hungry.)

In the end, the asshole man got to his job, not on time, mind you, because despite how fast the train went, we were still half an hour late. The philandering woman on the phone, she (presumably) got to her audition, and then maybe went to a hotel somewhere for a little “Wednesday afternoon kanoodling”. I would NEVER do something like that, because I have my husband – who is a doctor, who looks like a movie star, and who is (as I’ve mentioned before) probably reading this. Hi dear! And the two older ladies – even the one with the bad heart – arrived at their destination as well, though the last I saw them, they were shuffling along between trains, not going very fast, and seemingly, a little lost. One of them almost fell. But that’s what happens when you get old – you lose it, ALL of it. It’s going to happen to me too. Come to think of it, it already IS happening to me. My mind is the first thing to go. Am I even here right now? Am I typing or eating a banana? I don’t even know. In any case, if somebody somewhere is missing a grandma, she’s back at the station on platform number ninety-seven.

Now I have to go find my husband. Given what I’ve written here in this blog, he’ll either be very happy with me, or very unhappy. Either way, I’ve got some “work” to do, if you know what I mean. 😉

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Author: Amanda Fox

I have three slightly neurotic grown children, three very active and extremely cute cats, and one crazy busy husband. I've been married for more than twenty-five years. I love fitness, fashion, dancing, interior design and architecture, music, and movies.