It’s the feeling of being between two places, a temporary state, what an ice cube feels right before it becomes liquid, where nothing I do is real and when I walk into a gas station and I know I’m on a different plane than those around me, moving in between them and above and below them but not with them, and the candy bars even taste different when I’m traveling. Tomorrow I’ll be gone, but Mr. Gorman will still be here, restocking the Snickers.
I get on a bus and go somewhere I didn’t intend to be, somewhere no one knows or expects me. I’m disrupting the time-space continuum. My body in this place wasn’t supposed to happen, but here I am. Maybe my past self, one time when I was going through the laundry room in Oklahoma, made a decision to go to Target that day and that made all the difference, so now here I am, in the present, and I’m in a city I’ve never heard of, just wandering the streets and thinking that life here is much more interesting than it actually is, feeling the world is very fragile and that gravity is the only thing holding me down.
The most exciting time of travel is on the train, when I’m not anywhere at all. I’m not in point A. I’m not in point B. I’m drinking a coffee and I am option C. This is like time that was carved out of the real world, sealed up and made into railroad cars, and in this moment I can do nothing besides travel. As the world flies by my window, maybe I’ll daydream about point B or reminisce over point A or read that book I’ve been lugging around with me. Maybe I’ll draw.
I can’t draw. I’m awful at it. The only things I can make are psychedelic doodles with rigid aesthetic rules that I don’t fully understand, so maybe I’ll do that for a while and it doesn’t matter because I don’t exist right now. My computer’s off. My phone doesn’t work in this country. My friends are on my left and my right and in front of me, so maybe the whole world is right here.
At this moment, here in the train, anything is possible. It is the moment of greatest potential. When we reach point B, we could meet a roving band of musicians, or a documentary film maker, or a group of college students who like to dress up in 80’s clothes and go out dancing on Monday nights. We might sit in a café and pay too much for coffee and remark on how fashion is or isn’t different here, and how fanny packs (bumbags) really should (or shouldn’t) come back. We might see an opera, if it’s free, or start up a conversation with a mustachioed gentleman.
Everything will happen and we’ll see fireworks and run along the canals and laugh in the sun and shade and generally agree that life has never been better.
From the train, Point B seems like paradise and ultimate freedom, which are the same.
The train makes this world possible. The in-between gives finite points meaning. Stopping makes traveling worthwhile, but the transience makes it magical.