We all have had that time in our life where nothing seemed to be going right, no matter how much we tried, and I’m sure we can all agree that these are the times that are the most frustrating. As I’m sure many of you readers have discovered through previous writings, last year was not exactly my year… Far from it!! But I’m not here to dwell on the misfortunes of what happened to me, but rather, on the flip side of things, I’m going to tell you a story, a memory I can look on with a smile. You see, living in a seemingly perpetual state of pity and desperation actually creates some of my greatest stories because I was always seeking momentary joy everywhere, which meant making some spontaneous decisions.
Upon realizing that I would no longer be living my cushy life I’ve grown fond of, I did what every devastated girl would do: call up a girlfriend and go to the nearest bar to get stinking drunk. I was doing this frequent enough, but heartache takes a lot of beer and wine to heal. On this night, it would just so happen that the friend I went out with was also experiencing some devastation, and so the two of us found that the wine was going down extra easy. Not to mention, two recently single heartbroken girls tend to attract a lot of free drinks. A lot of free drinks… We could care less about whatever boy had sent them over, just so long as our cash and spirits remained. So, it was safe to assume that the night was going pretty well, as we began glowing and dreaming about all the new potential opportunities that just got dropped at our feet. There certainly was no shortage of tears and laughs that night.
Everything was going exceptionally well, until a boy arrived to be flirty with my girlfriend. Girls night was officially over in my mind, but no worries because my head was bobbed around in every which direction like a newborn baby, indication that I should probably not ingest another drop of anything other than water. My girlfriend was preoccupied with her new found companion, and so I opted to walk the five blocks to my apartment. Shouldn’t be too hard to walk five blocks, right? Sure I was a bit on the wobbly side, but I was capable of keeping myself upright and relatively on the sidewalk, so I went for it.
I cursed everything and everyone, talking aloud, with everyone most likely assuming I was a nut case. There were even arm gestures and kicking at nothing to go along with my angst, but what did I care? I was a girl in distress, I felt entitled to seem as crazy as I wanted to while feeling completely sorry for myself. And that’s when the magical moment happened. I heard the train. I stopped for a moment, thought for a second, and smiled. There was truly only one thing that had the power to control my attitude, and that was me. I wasn’t fulfilled feeling sorry for myself and I’m sure my friends were a bit weary of my constant crying accompanying my pitiful attitude, and so I promised to myself at that moment that I would only do things that would make me smile. And so, in my current state of mind, I decided I was going to shake things up in my life, I was going to take the fun route home, I would walk the train tracks.
So, a little clarification, the train tracks were twenty feet from the back yard of my old apartment, the one I was heading to at the time. The train or its tracks weren’t particularly exciting, but when inebriated and self-loathing, there are many things that sound tempting. I hurriedly made my way to the tracks (which at this point were right between me and my backyard, so it wasn’t even that much of an adventure, but okay) and was halted by a train making its way through. No biggie, I’ll just wait to walk the twenty feet between me and my backyard. When that train finished crawling on passed me, the second track parallel to the first had an idle train.
I walked up the this idle train, looking up at it, wondering how long it had been there and how long it planned on blocking me from finishing my short adventure and getting to my yard. Looking around, it appeared that it had no intention of moving, and after a few moments, I decided I would climb over it to get to my yard. Not too big a task given that it was one of those freight trains with the ladders on the side. Easy. After all, I was on the fun route and this just added to the adventure.
Once to the top of the train, I took a moment to take in the breath taking view of the city scape. Absolutely perfect, with the stars shining bright, the moon high in the sky, and the city glowing. I tried to imagine being a stranger in this city and seeing this view for the first time. Would I think it was beautiful or just mediocre? In the midst of pondering this, I felt a jolt, and with that the train began to go.
Looking down to figure out what to do from there, I concluded that if I were to quickly jump, I was too drunk to not break a limb. Given that moving to a new apartment was in my near future as well as finding a job, breaking a limb didn’t seem optimal. Then, I thought that maybe the train was tricking me and would stop again, at least long enough to let me off. No such luck. I was stuck. On a train. Who the heck gets stuck on a train!!
I settled in on top of the train, preparing to be there for quite some time. I took that as the best opportunity to begin drunk dialing my friends. I’m not the type to drunk dial, but at that point, it was going to be a long night and I wanted someone to talk to. So, I call up a girlfriend, who was on her first date with her now husband. Despite interrupting her first date, she was overjoyed at the story, promptly asking me where I was heading, for which my only answer was, I don’t know, we’re heading west, so I might end up in South Dakota in the morning. Why I figured South Dakota is beyond me, but it seemed logical at the time. My friend agreed to be my ride home in the morning, if that was indeed where the train dropped me off at, for picking up your train-hopping stranded friend in the next state over was a great reason to call into work. And that’s when we got cut off.
After getting cut off from one friend, I call my next girlfriend, who I happened to wake-up. Asking me what was up, I answered, I’m stuck on a train and I have no idea when I’m getting off. She sympathized, giving me all the poor babies, explaining that things were going to be okay. We chatted for a bit with the normal girlfriend bits, when the train tooted. There was immediate concern on her end suddenly as to my whereabouts. I told her again I was on a train. She thought I created a metaphor for my life. Mental head slap, but makes for a more colorful memory, that’s for sure. So, I listened as she gave me a concerning talk about irresponsibility. Yes, yes, something I was going to take into consideration when I was sober and on solid ground.
Good thing for her, the train police spotted me, and stopped the train, and yes, there are train police, they take their jobs very seriously. I quickly got off the phone, knowing I would get in some major trouble if I were to be spotted, and so I sat very still thinking that if I sat still, they wouldn’t see me. It didn’t work and they shouted up to me. I got my next brilliant idea: if I don’t answer them, they won’t know I’m human. That also didn’t work, because they re-called up to me with the threat of a 300 dollar ticket, for which I responded that I didn’t have 300 dollars and therefore had no intentions of getting down. I’m pretty sure they didn’t find that amusing, and so they told me to just come down. Totally busted, and I wasn’t even in South Dakota yet.
I got off the train, preparing myself for all the trouble I was about to get in. First thing the two men asked me was what I was doing hopping trains anyway. I told them I didn’t hop the train, but rather the train stole me, and I felt rather justified for my answer. Being train police, they did not find that amusing, and so I explained that while cursing my life and everything wrong with it, I took the fun route home, to which there was a train in my way and while trying to climbing over it, it took off with me on top of it with no regards to what I wanted. Wearing white pants that day, I also explained that no logical person would ruin a good pair of white jeans by hoping a train.
I’ve been given looks of disbelieve in the past, but the look on their faces suggested they have never encountered this in their train policing experience. So, what do they do? Ask me where I came from, and then point me in the general direction with the advise of not climbing over idle trains anymore. I’m pretty sure I could have figured out both of those by myself, but it totally beat a 300 dollar ticket.
I got off outside of Milwaukee. A few hours later, a lot of walking and finally an agreement from someone to come pick me up, I was able to make my way home.
My friends have never let me live this down, and I’m okay with that. When it comes down to it, my sadness and desperation sent me on some great adventures, some crazy, some full of love, some sad. I don’t remember how bad my broken heart felt or how many tears I cried out of frustration, but what I will always remember are those adventures.