August 30, 2010

Changing trains

The man with the eyepatch passes slowly. As much as I try, it's almost impossible not to stare ("What happened?"), until after a while my attention is drawn to a pretty young girl with a much too short skirt on. I notice where my eyes rest and force them away. The split second where I feel like a dirty old man comes and passes. I look at the clock. Still 18 minutes before the train is supposed to arrive.

I'm leaning against the wall opposite the Moonflower boutique at Amsterdam Centraal Station. I got my headphones on, The Smiths are playing. I watch a group of kids now, laughing, obviously excited about something. An older woman shakes her umbrella dry. Outside I can hear the thunder rolling.

Two friendly looking ladies walk up to me. I turn my music down. "Do you know where the train to Enkhuizen is leaving from?"

All these people live in their own moment, have their own story, their own destination. This is always true of course, but it's extra obvious in a place like a train station. Do you know that thing you sometimes do, where you try to look through other people's eyes? See things from their perspective? Or is that only me? It's quite a sobering excercise, I find.

Those that notice me at all, they see me leaning here. Just an avarage looking guy, unshaved for two, maybe three days. They don't see my financial worries. Messy hair from the wind. They don't see me missing my girlfriend and son. Blue shirt, black shoes. They don't see my migraines or anything else that may bother me. About 1.90m tall. They don't see the project at work that needs to be finished this Tuesday. I'm just a flash in the corner of their eyes. On a bad day this could possibly depress me, but right now it seems to put things in a healthy perspective.

In one of those rare moments of amazing appropriateness, my MP3-player is done with The Smiths, and Withered Hand comes on, singing:

"I try to see the world in your eyes
I’m insignificant
That’s my size
In the greater scheme of things I am nothing"

I sometimes have this tendency to make my own 'problems' almighty, to feel just that little bit too sorry for myself. The man with the eyepatch passes again. My hand moves to my own eye.

I breathe in. I look at the clock. Time to go. I breathe out. If he notices me, the man with the eyepatch sees a guy, walking away towards track 14b, now with a smile on his face and a feeling of acceptance is his eyes.

Nothing really happened in those 25 minutes in between trains. Nothing was solved, nothing achieved. Still I feel a bit like another person.

Life is just often so much better than it seems.


Dimitra Daisy said...

Lately everywhere I look you have written something lovely and honest and humbling and sweet.

Marianthi said...

This is great, Dennis. I once spent a couple of hours in the middle of the night, on a coach journey back from Oxford, tipsily talking about the same thing. Losing yourself in other people is kind of magical and you put it so beautifully.