Tonight I was stopped while a train passed for ten minutes. Most of the train passed in front of me slowly, and then most of the train went in reverse, slowly, and then the train stopped, and then the train passed in front of me again, quickly, until finally the railroad crossing was lifted.
On the train was lumber, it seemed, one of the many parts of the production process that I know nothing about. This train can waste ten minutes of my day, just like some contrived website with production processes I know everything about. I am more fundamentally curious about the train than the website, but still I know nothing about the U.S. commercial rail system and I spend time, every day, on websites I don’t care about. You might say that when I spend time on those websites, that I’m derailing.
My old house, about a mile farther north from my apartment now, was right next to the train yard. The apartment would often shake or I’d be awakened by booms and train horns. I don’t know what kinds of products when into that train yard. What kinds of hobos went into that train yard. I have said that I love the trains in my neighborhood because they make me feel connected. I do not know what is on the trains but they make me feel connected. Unlike the commuter rail lines out east, these trains move slowly and darkly, over bridges and through neighborhoods. They are part of the landscape but not a part of life. And I say they make me feel connected.
On my commute home every day, I drive over a set of train tracks that has no railroad crossing signs. There is only a stop sign, and you can’t really see what’s on the tracks until you are almost through the stop sign. Sometimes trains go over this track and I have to stop while they cross in front of me, with nothing but a stop sign and some negative space between me and the train. How are there train crossings without warning signs and barriers? How could this happen?
The weekend was bookended by parties, one of which I threw, and it was lovely. But it was a hard weekend. You know. It was the kind of hard weekend I barely talked about with anyone. I do not think that I want to talk. I don’t even know if I want to know more about the trains, but here is the train that I saw.