The train is beat up, marked with graffiti. It’s old and has been relegated to spend it’s final days on this crap run from Carcassonne to Nime- I’m going as far as Montpellier, where I’ll transfer to a more glamorous route- non-stop to Paris. For now we are just a commuter train. We make stops at Lezignan- Corbieres, Narbonne, Bezier, Agde and more. Train stations are always in the shit part of town as we roll in I wonder how anyone can live here.
There is a group of old people on the train- long retired, they are traveling together- it seems cozy and comfortable. They break out the picnic as soon as they board- drinking beer and wine, eating cheese and smelly foie gras sandwiches like we had on the drive down. Big, generous slabs of expensive foie gras between a soft baguette- no condiments needed. There are 7 of them 4 women, 3 men; I can’t tell which is the widow. I use the bathroom- the toilet is normal enough looking until you look in, it opens to the track below. What if a rock was kicked up while… I prefer not to think about it.
We pass mules, windmills, truck depots, stuccoes houses with satellite dishes, grape vine, grape vines, grape vines, rocky hills, windmill, canals, dieing brush. The Mediterranean is on the right, flat farmland that looks like central Ohio on the left. I’m reminded of my time in Chicago, not because of the landscape but because JML commented on my blog the day before. A name from the past- I had to think about the initials. Time clicks by quickly, jobs, houses, marriages, children, death, dreams, addictions, and breakdowns. It all goes by so quickly.
I think it’s been 13 years since I was living in Chicago. I was there from ages 21 to 30. The first 7 years were great the last 2 not so much. A little spiraling out of control blew me back home- leveling off and then spiraling again. It’s easy to dwell on regrets- but then again every bump in the road brought me to where I am today- and I like where I am. I’m not talking about Paris- but I like that too.
It is windy outside; leaves are blowing off the sycamore trees- a mountain range is on the left, Montagne Noir- Is that right? I bought a map of France at the train station this morning. I like to know where I am at any given moment. I like to see the big picture. Unfortunately, I spend so much time with my head buried in a map, looking for the big picture, that I often miss the small details that make up the moment. It drives my wife nuts. “Can’t we just walk?” It should be apparent by now that we can’t- at least I can’t.
The train is pulling into Bezier- a big church sits on the hill, we go over the Canal du Midi- same canal that runs through Carcassonne. It turns right before emptying into the Mediterranean, we continue straight toward Montpellier. I’ll get on a different train in Montpellier, a nicer, faster train- there will be no graffiti on that one. In four hours I’ll be back in Paris- I miss my wife.