I’m falling in love with the train. There are a few inanimate objects I love: rings, notebooks, handkerchiefs, boxes of cereal, a handful of crayolas, empty glass bottles, large clay coffee mugs. The list isn’t really ranked, but Train is surely moving up.

Leiden Centraal Station is a landmark here, a meeting spot, a site of common ground, a place you give directions in relation to. The train is the quiet force, whizzing to and fro in the background, giving the Station that importance. You can take it to go anywhere, and when you step inside it’s warm there. The pale yellow ticket never costs too much – and plus, its price immediately feels legitimate. You get to go places with that slip of paper.

There’s the adrenaline of making it up the stairs and to the correct platform and between the sliding doors before the minute hand strikes Time To Go. There’s the noise that instantly buzzes into your ears upon walking inside. Hear it? It’s people talking to each other, usually the mundane kind, about their day, sometimes in different languages. There is the zipping and unzipping of raincoats, too. The turn of a page in someone’s book, the taps on a keyboard. Even the quiet ones, the window-seat seekers with foreheads leaned against the panes, they have a sound, too. It’s all so exciting and so calming to walk into, to pick a seat next to, to be apart of.

Below are a few photos from a train trip to Den Haag and then a trip to Delft today. (Yes, that is an Ikea bag. I love Ikea, too.) And I realize that these shots are largely of the outdoors – nothing of the train itself, really. But that’s what the thing allows you to do: be stationary and kinetic at the very same time. Sitting and zooming through dynamic scenery all at once.

If there is a train ride you enjoy, too, I’d love for you to share. International, domestic, whatever. Birmingham to Ann Arbor and back is one of my very favorites.


3 responses to “Locomotion

  1. boo

    I love it when the train travels along the tracks nearby and makes our house vibrate

  2. Trish

    We were very impressed with the fast train while in France. Initially we failed to see the glamor because we were trying to get the whole group on the train along with their luggage in a timely-do not-get-left-behind fashion. Several ladies in our group (Shrine high school students) had luggage that could have held half a pre-school class. But once we were aboard and enroute to the coast it was delightful. The only time you were really aware of the speed was when another fast train appraoched from the opposite direction and the woosh as they passed. A very fast and smooth ride—arriving at your destination without having your back molars shaken loose was a definite plus! Looking forward to the photos from Delft.

  3. Mary Binder

    I agree wholeheartedly! The absence of trains in Traverse City is very evident to me. I’m used to the sound of them through our Royal Oak neighborhood throughout the day and night. I sort of hopped on in my mind at times when I’d hear it – especially at night lying in bed.
    I have childhood memories of train rides from Decatur to Chicago after we moved there, and the terrifying but exciting traverse from one car to the next with the ground exposed, the metal floor shaking, and that scary moment when you were alone in that space between the vacuum sucked doors of the two cars. I know that probably no longer exists, but it did for me around age 8.
    And then, your Mom and I with our Eurail passes that let us go everywhere in ’74. What adventures we had then…and now it’s your turn!
    Love you!

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