Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Night Train

I am 14, and tired of humanity. i have seen too many things that none of my friends have, and experienced too many emotions and activites that isolate me from my peers. in time they will catch up, but 14 is an awkward age. i am in bangkok, thailand, and it is hot and humid and incredibly smelly. the air itself is grey with water and pollution, and the people are grey and lined like old rotting fruit. everything drips: sweat, condensation, words. it is evening, and i clutch my backpack compulsively closer, the only part of what i can feel that seems real. we board a night train, bound for chang mai. the awkward, self-conscious me is nervous of the young train guards who stand a few feet away, looking at me and laughing. i am sweaty, and red, and feel swollen like an overripe tomato. i feel so unbelievably unsafe, so out-of-body, that if someone poked me, or shot a sharp glance i would melt or dissolve. i close the curtain, i leave the window that is part of my wall down, to try and catch a breeze. we go through the evening, through the city, and i lie back and watch the falling-down buildings, the lights, the people, the poverty and the humanity flow past.
i wake at 5 a.m., freezing cold. i pull on my fleece, and huddle under the paper-thin blanket, trying to get warm. we are in the mountains, and when i realize sleep has permanently eluded me i stay sitting up in my little bunk, watching the foggy green jungles and little villages flash by. i see a girl in a school uniform walking down a road. i see an old man on a bicycle. i see pigs and dogs sleeping in ashes. they all ignore the train, and i feel like a benevolent ghost, only half-visible, and it makes me smile, and all of the sudden the earth is right on course and i am overjoyed to be a part of it.

(from my memory, 2003)

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