I am lying in my bed at dawn listening to the sound of the train. Thinking of travel. That sound of somewhere else. And returning. The Rhinecliff station, only steps away from my porch, is the center of the quirky 17th century hamlet, I happily call home. Summer is lurking, in spite of the snow-filled winter that finally ended. The gray, and dirt mottled mounds, that seemed would never go away in parking lots and suddenly narrow streets in our towns, and villages and hamlets throughout the Hudson Valley and most of the surrounding Northeast, stretching through the Midwest, and the Northwest, and most destinations south, made it difficult to imagine summer could ever return. The polar vortex that kept us all somewhat frozen in a winter that overlapped into our spring, has finally ceased.
The predawn train whistle beckons me to my upcoming summer. I have travelled vastly the past two summers. In almost constant motion miles away from a life, a marriage, and a growing anxiety, I have travelled instead toward freedom, peace and a growing calm. As summer hesitantly approaches with great reluctance, I am beginning to feel some level of unease. And I am uncertain if it feels related to staying, as opposed to going, or if I am in need to go out, far away, and back onto the road to places not yet seen. And even places I wish to see again, deeper, with closer attention to detail. Cities and states, friends and relatives, diverse landscape. New Orleans. Denver. Charleston. Kentucky, Kansas, Nebraska. Maybe Montana, North Dakota, Washington, and Oregon? The past two years I had eeked out the funding and stretched a dollar far beyond the elasticity of the linen fibers that keep the floating Eye of Providence afloat by packing a tent, staying with friends and family, and hotel.com-ing or hotwire-ing it across this vast and beautiful continent.
I have been blessed and restored. I have new stories and adventures that warm me and make me smile. Dancers in Zuni Pueblo, bikers in Sturgis, campers in Grand Teton, a warm and generous mother in Idaho, a new friend in New Orleans, they have all shared parts of their stories with me and by doing so, have become part of mine. The call to go back out on the road is strong. "Annuis Coeptis", the latin message on my out stretched dollars might help me decide, whether to stay or travel. The translation: Favors the things having been begun.
There is also the clearer, and at times, welcome reality that it is time to stay. That I am safe, that I no longer need to run or be in constant motion to avoid or deny. That if I stop I will not fall to my knees, broken, but will stand, poised and ready for what’s to come. Knowing, finally, I am ready to transport my strength and courage, my love and forgiveness forward. I can begin in earnestness unpacking and releasing baggage and trappings that have weighed me down. Or remind me of a time and life in need of mercy and grace and a one way ticket to never again and no more.
The hissing screech of forged steel wheels on a steel trajectory follows the low mournful whistle, calling sleepy commuters to the station. A few tourists, travelers, vagabonds mixed in, I am certain. They are called by the sound of somewhere else, of adventure and something not yet known. Of more and of less than they have seen and felt before. Godspeed my friends.
As I rise to get ready for work, I notice my topography map is in need of unfolding. I think of my hiking gear, in the trunk of my car, almost ready. It will need to be inventoried, carefully repacked and a few items replaced or repaired. This summer I will stay closer. Trekking through those faraway peaks that line the Adirondacks. I will stand poised and ready. Forever wild, at tree line, awaiting my next adventure.
And there’s always the Amtrak station in Westport, the Adirondack line carrying passengers to Canada, all stations north, and then Northwest if one cares to go. All aboard for beginning what has begun once more.