Train Hopping

I imagine finding you on the train on the way to Berlin. We’re sipping our cups of coffee, careful not to burn our tongues so our mouths could speak. I imagine you catching a glimpse of the book I’m reading — maybe a Young Adult novel, or maybe Jane Eyre — and I see your curiosity peak. I imagine us on a train because there’s something vaguely romantic about trains — how a train cannot move without being on its tracks, how there’s always a destination to go to, and how the windows give us just a glimpse of all we’re passing through, but we could never, as they say, stop to smell the roses.

Alright, fine. You caught me. I’m imagining us on a train because in my favourite film, Jesse and Celine met on that train in 1995 and they talked and they discussed and they argued about anything and everything. I want to have that — conversations after conversations with you.

But that’s hardly a romantic thing to say, and for us to continue this story, I have to sustain the element of fantasy by making you, the reader, believe there is a chance of romance.

Because that chance is few and far between. All I’ve been looking for is that glimmer in your eyes which ask me — are you the one I’ve been searching for, can you be the one I’ve been searching for?And all I can tell you is, “Sit with me, stay a while, see if we fit. It’s alright if we don’t. We can go our own way, looking for someone else soon enough, nursing a bit of heartbreak but knowing in our bones that we simply weren’t the ones we were both searching for. We just have to dust off our coats and keep moving forward.”

Just like how this train chugs along. We drink our coffees again — mine a latte and yours a cappuccino — and you lean over, trying to read what I’ve been so engrossed in. I pull my book closer to me at first, but then I see your eyes. They seem to have a speck of green in them caught by the refraction of the sun outside the windows.

Where have I seen those eyes before?

They carry too much within themselves — broken dreams, fragile hopes. It’s as if someone has barely snuffed out the light in them, like you’re still trying to keep the candle burning but you’re down to the last bit of wax.

They remind me of my own eyes, hidden behind these grey plastic frames I chose to wear instead of my contacts, full of desire. Did you know the word ‘desire’ originally meant “await what the stars will bring”? There was none of the expectation and the wanting that our modern minds have conceived around the word. All it asked you to do was wait as patiently as you could. The stars will bring you what you’ve been searching for. So put down your basket, unstrap your boots. Let the stillness bring you hope.

Hope. An inkling. Familiarity. A sense of belonging. Serendipity. A chance for something new.

Who knows what can happen? We’re on a train — we can go anywhere and never be lost, for all we need to do is just retrace our steps. The tracks will bring us home, but it will also bring us new places and experiences. All we need to do is hop on.

The lovely @imaginedideas on Instagram did this as part of ArText with my words.

*written back in Dec 2015 for ArText, organised by the National Library Board.

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