When I got on the fast train from the burbs to the city yesterday an old man shuffled way over so that he was sitting on my dress. I had a little chat and a laugh with him and then got the chance to pull my clothes back to me. His wife, who was sitting on the outside of the row, hissed at him ‘why do you have to talk to everyone when we’re out’.
I’m a bit like that old man. A bit of a public transport talker, and listener.
After the cutting comments of his wife passed I settled into the journey staring out the window, reading a book on the loss of a son by his mum, it was the kind of book you could only read in snippets and then take some respite. It made me sad. When I looked up to see where I was I instantly recognised the scene. My eyes scanned out across the inner western suburbs of Sydney. I saw the local pool we swam in as kids, remembering times when mum would surprise us at school with the swimming bag and 40 cents for the pool turnstile. I looked out at the street that ran parallel to the train line that I used to run along worried Id missed my train to take me to uni, I saw a few share houses Id lived in as a young person, places where you could stumble home from the pub, kebab shops for random – but much needed snacks – on the way and then I saw the house that my girl’s dad rented when he moved out of our place. If I sat high enough in my seat I could see over the concrete balcony and into the lounge room. I remembered the heavy heart Id have when I would drop my girl off there, portacot in tow, yellow blankie tucked safely into the nappy bag and then the lump in my throat as Id walk away waiting for the hours to pass quickly so that I could come back and return her to my arms.
As the journey kept going we stopped just outside of Redfern. Its always a place where the train stops, just short of your destination, as you wait for the signals to change and for you to be deposited at the place you intended. Yesterday I was heading to a meeting of people focused on developing the dream of one woman to create a space for people online to share their stories from the cradle to the grave. In the counselling world we explore peoples backstories as a way of predicting how they will cope with whatever stress that is troubling them. We retrace the traumas that have befallen them, the triumphs, the moments where resilience has kicked in and new ways are discovered to help people cope better.
Travelling along the train line was like travelling alone on an actual timeline of my life – from the cradle to now. When I stepped back on the train later that afternoon I realised that the return journey travelled not back along the track Id already come but it headed north away from where it had started.
It headed home.
Whats your story timeline?