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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Writer's Journal (exercise): Train Travel

I love it. Always have, since I was a kid. Not that we did a lot of train travel in Tassie — no need, for the most part, as Dad was a car salesman so we always drove. But occasionally I was sent on a train to an aunty and uncle somewhere else on the island. And later, in my teens in Victoria, there were longer journeys. I liked the sleeping car, with a room to myself, and waking early in the morning to pull up the blind and watch the landscape slide by. In more recent years I’ve loved the XPT journeys to Sydney and Melbourne, choosing to travel by day as much as possible, able to walk around, write, read, watch scenery, do crossowords, eat meals...

I like the slower pace of trains, the opportunity to look around, to doze occasionally, etc.

When I was a young woman going to work from Melbourne suburbs to the city, I liked train travel for just the same reasons, though not the crowding. Luckily I lived far enough out that I usually got a seat.

When my (now) best friend Pam boarded with us, Bill would have been gone early; she and I would wake with our alarms, one would be in the bathroom while the other got breakfast and vice versa (we fed ourselves); we’d walk out the gate, wait for the bus, get out at the station, queue up, get on the train, and finally arrive at Flinders St., in almost perfect silence. Only by the end of the trip would be become awake enough to exchang a grunt or two. We were in perfect accord, it was the beginning of our lifelong friendship.  The sort where you can go months or years without contact, then pick up as if it were yesterday.

Trains — I wish the XPT still came to Murwillumbah; I wish it would be extended to Brsbane; I wish it would operate like a suburban train with all the small towns en route.

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