When you follow your bliss, doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else -- Joseph Campbell.

Train Whistles

Some people wake up to the sounds of cars and trucks speeding by behind the concrete barriers lining the highways. Some pull back crisp linen sheets and stretch leisurely to the singing of birds outside their window sills. I've even been told stories of people in villages waking before the first cock crow.

And some others, like myself, can never get the sound of train whistles out of their minds. I wonder at the sorts of memories the first stimulus of the day can trigger in peoples minds. The first sound of the morning, the first taste of coffee at 6 a.m., the first rustling of leaves in the fall, the first smell of winter at dawn. The first ray of sunshine nudges my eyes open, yet my wind doesn't wake up until I walk into Hartford and hear the first train whistle of the day.

In my mind, I see sleeping fields and mounds of hills, rising from their slumber at the first train whistle announcing its arrival into the day, shaking birds out of their nests, terrorizing little gophers out of their holes, forcing a sleepy train attendant out of his warm seat inside a glass cabin to alert all travelers not to miss possibly their only commute. I see a little train station perched on top of a brick pavement, so inconspicuous, you would never know it was there if you couldn't see the train huffing and puffing its way in.

I hear train whistles cutting across rows of cement and glass, and then, without any warning, I'm five and running along with train, trying to outdo it's speed, unmindful of my mother waiting at home, her heart leaping into her mouth at the thought of me kicking pebbles across train tracks. But how could I ever explain to her that the kid with the farthest shot got to pick his own sugarcane out of the fields across the tracks? Or the right aim with the slingshot could get me my own mango that I could lord over the dinner table?

How can I tell my mother now that the sounds of train whistles at 7 in the morning bring me back to city roads that smell like tar and hurt my feet when I try to run on them? Or that pebbles now get lodged in the heels of my shoes, and sometimes, they hit across my eyes. How do I tell her that I want train whistles to be just train whistles.


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