"Caution, the doors are about to close," is announced and my heart rate increases in anticipation of the start of my journey to the city. I can't help but wonder about the differences between me and the other passengers as the car filled up somewhat while it waited.
Who are they? Where are they going? Why are they going? I can't help but wonder, Do any of them feel as anxious as I do?
It's Friday, almost noon. Most assuredly, most travelers are commuters who do this almost every day. Are there any like me who feels terror pulling at his feet as the train gets under way?
Do any obsess over which side to sit on? Which would provide a better view? Despite my fears I want to immerse myself into the coming landscape, through small forests, small towns, the edges of neighborhoods, through other stations, past roads, schools, churches, businesses -- all I want to drink with my eyes.
From which side will I see more of my community?
The window I want to lean my head against to get the most of the view is smudged by the heads, I assume, of past passengers leaning, resting perhaps, their heads. Most of the window is so smudged. I want something to wipe it with. But it's okay.
Graffiti, tenements, trash. I am nearing the city.
Junk piles behind businesses, old cars and trucks, rusted hulks and iron, all fenced off. Backyards, parking lots. And life itself. To me, as a tourist, if you will, it is all beautiful.
A young man with a leather, studded belt and wrist bracelets was in the car but left. Where was he going to? A blonde woman enters -- cute? I forgot my glasses. But women usually do not look my way.
Someone sits right in front of me. Damn! Someone accesses the aisle. That's how the fear starts. I try to ignore it.
We pass a wetlands with a pair of nesting swans. That too is beautiful.
A woman with a head scarf -- I hope we never get to that point I think, recalling head scarf bans in France.
The way back is always a concern. Will I be on time? Never would I attempt to make the last train. What if it's not running? I rush. There's time. I buy the return ticket here this time. Oh, no, what track? Will it be announced? Oh, I remember now, the track is marked.
I do not ask the workers by the train to reassure me it's the right one. I really want to though. Not until on the train and the announcement of the proper destination do I relax.
Except for the fact that's it's dark and I have a car to go to...
The ride back was fully lit and almost full. The first was a shame because I still wanted to look out the window. The other was not a source of anxiety I realized later -- odd, I hadn't even think about it.
Something else happened on the way back. A small child was crying continually for many minutes. That also did not bother me. All my life just hearing a child cry drove me into deep anxiety. Perhaps there is hope for me yet.
Second day. Things do get better in that having done this before I am aware of expectations -- I also have two other people in my life now that adds to this equation. Being alone means that no matter how many times I had done something in the past the anxiety never lessened the more I did it.
One learns, one adapts, when one's mind is not entirely preoccupied with fear and doubt. This time I arrived on time -- the anxiety is less -- although this is the next day, no time to have built up new fears.