My mother loved to say, “She has a loose coupling in her train of thought!”  Mother felt it was such a clever way to forgive someone their rudeness, and would use it when describing the behavior of those who took it upon themselves to annoy her by interrupting and changing the subject. This was usually a friend who most likely lost track of the topic under discussion due to inattention, didn’t agree with her, or was simply distracted by some passing thought. To be fair, Mother used it as well to excuse her own lapses in concentration. She recognized it as an apt description of the normal moments we all have when we simply skip to a different thought leaving others to wonder where we have gone. She liked it also because it segued so beautifully into those other railroad references about getting side-tracked, or staying on track.

Now however, as we all wend our way through the miasma of pessimism that blankets our Covid world, I find myself caught up in her old phraseology. These days any couplings in my train of thought are not only loose, but have become completely detached. I feel as if I have indeed lost my grip. My thoughts are going nowhere and I no longer feel attached to the train that was my life. There I was chugging along, going someplace. I might not have known the destination with any certainty, but I was at least moving. Now I feel as if I am in a huge train yard filled with box cars, flat-beds, coal cars, and cabooses, all left higgledy-piggledy with no way forward. So here we all sit rusting away, awaiting someone to sort through the mess and get us all moving again. And ironically, the area used to house and care for the engines that are supposed to be pulling the train … that area is called the Loco Yard. How trenchant a commentary is that?

There is a universal sense of abandonment when one sees detached train cars sitting in a rail yard. They are big and cumbersome, and difficult to move. They look rather absurd with their tiny little wheels all in row supporting empty graffiti covered behemoths with doors agape. They sit rusting-away, abandoned shells from some geometrical monster.  And yet, when coupled together and sent off on their far-flung journeys, these great lumbering mammoths come to life. Given purpose they move with a unique poetic grace. For years they have brought energy and excitement to those whose paths they’ve crossed. It is amazing how those shoddy, rattle-trap rusted cars shed their isolation and come to life given the opportunity.

Today I live with the hope we shall be able to come to grips with the future. It would be nice if we too could be joined together and, on our way once again. I for one, think it would be nice not to worry about bumping into some strange loose caboose, or some moldering box car who might or might not be carrying toxic waste. I am fed up with living in fear of being consumed by rust, and could really use a change of scenery now and again. I mean these tracks are pretty boring, and I remember when I had places to go. It isn’t as if there isn’t a bit of life left in my wheels, but my railcar couplers are in need of attention.  And we can only hope the Loco Yard Crew will at some point get organized and back to work. We could use a bit of help out here on the tracks.

11 Replies to “ALL ABOARD!”

  1. I have two quotes regards your phrase, “I might not have known the destination with any certainty, but I was at least moving.” Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” And who can forget, “We don’t know where we’re going but we’re makin’ great time.”

  2. Thanks David,
    Sadly I cannot recall if I ever knew where I was going. But I seem to have arrived at some sort of rest area.

  3. The languid picture, your use of language, the metaphor…so clever, Connie. You have created such a clear picture with your narrative. A favorite, for sure…keep ’em comin’…

  4. Connie on a way too long family car trip long ago, my parents argued in the front seat as to whether we were on the right road. We got to a toll booth and my father barked at the toll attendant, “IS THIS THE RIGHT ROAD?” and the attendant promptly replied, “Ah..YUP!” How easy is that?

  5. Connie,
    Since I just returned from a train trip to Philadelphia, your imagery is very real and meaningful. My grandfather and uncles worked for the Pennsylvania railroad so many good memories came to life. Thank you!

  6. Connie, I think all of us are hoping to journey on to tracks unknown before we hit the end of the line! Keep the stories coming.

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