I feel that everybody should experience waving goodbye to someone they love from a train at one point in their life. And for that matter, not just any kind of goodbye. Not like a see-you-in-a-week or in-a-month goodbye, but a “see you in a couple of years, I’m leaving you in a foreign country, this feels like a movie” kind of goodbye.
The dreadful train arrives at the stop, you give some final kisses and squeezes, and then you board it. Then there is a gap of dead time while you’re on the train and your loved one(s) are on the platform when you blow kiss after kiss out the window. All the while you’re wondering if there’s time to hop off real quick for a final hug, and then hop back on before the train actually leaves. No one knows when the train will decide to depart, so you persistently blow kisses and wave as if the train might suddenly vaporize. Then once you hear the engine, you’re suddenly not ready at all to leave, and feel as if too few kisses have been blown and an insufficient number of waves have been exchanged. Now mouthing “I love you” comes into the mix, and the waves become more frantic.
The train begins rolling and you feel as if it is doing so completely against your will. Not now, no, no, no. Suddenly you’re two and feel like crying. As the train crawls away from the platform it becomes harder and harder to crank your kneck to look back at your family. But the train doesn’t leave fast enough, instead, it dangles the pain of leaving your sister, brother, and niece in a dramatic suspense allowing it to build until it boils over. And by the time you have your face against the window pane and you can barely see your crying, waving sister, you loose sight and the train takes you away, like a mother sweeping up her disobedient child. And so like a child, tortured against their own will, you cry. But not because you didn’t get your way, no, you bought this train ticket and you want to leave, but not like this. Some other way?
And it’s because of all the drama of the train slowly separating you from the loving faces you didn’t want to leave.
Airports don’t work this way. You say goodbye, hug, and then you loose sight of your family by your own doing: you use your legs to walk onto the plane. Once on the plane, you generally can’t see any crying, waving faces. Cars are the same. You sit yourself in the car, turn on the engine, and then you try not to crash as you direct yourself away down the road (window down, arm out waving). It’s much more distracting and you don’t feel so helpless and controlled. You could even sit in the driveway for a minute or two longer…
It was dramatic leaving Emily, Joel, and Elena. For a number of reasons of course, but the train really gets you worked up! Might it have been better if it was an American train station? But leaving my family somewhere that wasn’t quite their home yet and going somewhere that was not my home but somewhere foreign- such a recipe for a dramatic farewell. The only thing missing was a hankercheif. I have scarves a plenty but hankies I have not. Also some steam from the train would have been nice. And I guess I could have opened the window and leaned out of it. Besides that I think we did a pretty good job of living a movie scene. Oh yeah, and Joel didn’t cry. Hmmm, we’ll have to practice and try again sometime.