A Train, A Voice, An Adventure (Part One)
An Open Expanse
The Calling Whistle
Opening to the Field
Part One-- Remembering and Awakening
Today I walked outside and remembered a time so much like today, yet so much not…
Unlike today the air was thick and choking, you could feel the moisture slow your every move and weigh the weight of failure across your shoulders. I could almost understand why people spoke so slowly in the south. It seemed that the atmosphere stopped the words and distorted their sound as they bounced off the tiny molecules of humidity. Yet, like today I woke deep in the morning, seeing things that the “normal” population see—the rising sun, chirping happy birds greeting each other in a concert of unwelcomed joy—a juxtaposition to the echoing beat of a dehydrated brain suck dry by irresponsibility. Inside the boxed cage of my home slept a woman, a nice woman who knew nothing of my restlessness, the blood-boiling antagonist that raged against a social norm. And like today, that rage pumped into my legs and screamed for me to run, to run anywhere, to run toward any point without a finish line.
I was in Tennessee at the time, living in a house that emulated a decaying body. It had rotting walls, furniture that reeked of disrepair, unruly animals, and debauchery. Yet, beyond this modern day opium den of a dying middle class, sprawled an endless expanse of untamed plains and woods, rolling hills and undeveloped heaven. The property had five acres of living with 200 acres of land owned by Knox County. And tucked away, hidden in this wilderness waited that distant rumbling of freedom, train tracks.
Sometimes, if I was lucky, I could hear the trains calling my restlessness like the sounds of a swooning woman calling me to her bed. It would come when my ears least expected it, piercing through the air, sword-like and violent, reminding me that I lived in the wrong place, in the wrong time.
I was sitting up in bed when I received the rush of energy. The walls of the tiny room closed in upon me. The woman had an arm draped over my legs, gently gathering and releasing air. Gingerly I got up, grabbed a bottle of scotch, three books, notepad, pencils, and placed them quietly in a school backpack. I walked out of the house in the midst of chirping discussion about nothing important, conducted by the others that shared the payments and rights to live in the dying home. I ignored the jabbing remarks they made, the taunting and the inane purpose of our relationship. And as I walked out along the trail that led to the beautiful freedom of isolation, I felt the problems, regret, and dissatisfaction of life fall away. My heart pounded and I noticed the sweet smell of sex mix with the expulsion of whiskey as it seeped from my pores. The sounds of nature called to the world around me, and in the distance, I heard the calling of the sound the train’s horn. I recalled the stories of Steinbeck, Horace McCoy, and Faulkner. The sort of romanticism felt by misguided souls who concluded that real artists must suffer greatly, that he or she must envelop one’s self in poverty and despair to write a great book. I concluded to catch the train, any train, and let it guide me on another misadventure. The horn blew again as the trail opened onto a flat plain bulldozed years before for reasons I’d never know. I would go beyond that plain, beyond the woods on the other side. I would get lost, find my way and get lost again, so that I may find a voice…my voice.
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