There’s something about trains that makes me feel like an adult. Combine a commuter train with a paper cup of coffee and I’m overwhelmed with a sense of being an important and accomplished person, on my way to do something meaningful and significant.
It’s always winter in these kinds of situations, it seems. One of my first memories of really feeling like a grown-up is a purely evocative sense memory of getting off the Skytrain in Vancouver at Granville street, wearing a long navy blue blue wool coat (second-hand, naturally), carrying a shoulder bag and a cup of coffee, and being swept along with all the business people on their way to work. I’m not sure when this memory dates from, but it is pretty powerful.
I don’t take trains very often, and I’ve only ever for one brief period of my life used a train as my daily commute. I wish I could take trains every day, actually (we are considering moving, so this may come true), but I always seem to end up living in other circumstances.
In South Africa and the Middle East, it was pretty much impossible to cope with daily life without a car. Obviously, lots of people do cope, using taxis, busses and informal public transport, as well as walking and bicycles. For someone with a white-collar job, though, it can be hard, and in Dubai, living in university-issue accommodation in a neighbourhood without busses, it was hard and expensive to not have a car. My colleagues without cars relied heavily on those of us with cars, which creates its own set of issues.
Since we’ve been in the UK, we haven’t had a car, and in fact, neither of us is now legally allowed to drive. We only miss it sometimes. Getting across the country by train is a pain (up and down is a lot easier), and it would be nice to be able to rent a car and go camping somewhere. We are working on it (or Martin is), but we really don’t want to own one. I look at cars now, and think, weird objects, why would you want one?
But I still want to ride a train.