I woke this morning at 4 am to the sound of birds, so thrilled to greet the new day that they could no longer contain their joy. By 6 am, neither could the Indomitable Moxie, who has been on high alert ever since the Fox paid a midnight visit to her domain two nights ago. After a brief patrol of the perimeter, she was content to crawl beneath the comforter and go back to sleep. Me on the other hand, decided to give up on sleep and start getting ready for the airport. My mood could not have been more different than it was last week. Choosing to travel instead of having to travel can make all the difference in the world.
Today was the great public transportation experiment. Mrs. 20 Prospect dropped me at the brand new train station in Fridley. I had planned to ride the “Northstar” Commuter Train (or Heavy Rail as I like to call it) to the Target Field station, and transfer to the “Light Rail” train for the ride out to the airport. Standing on the platform in the morning chill, the world smelled like God had just broken the seal. After 15 years of talking, and planning, and political wrangling, it’s hard to believe that the trains are finally running. Despite our self perception as free spending liberals, Minnesotans are pretty slow to open the wallet. I see that as one of our endearing quirks.
Traveling with nothing but a backpack for a carryon is exhilarating, and a bit anxiety inducing. And just like skinny dipping, I feel like I was breaking standards of common decency, if not the law. It brings back fond memories of my mis-spent young adulthood, kicking around from power plant to power plant, sometimes with no more than a backpack. Time and technology changes, but things remain remarkably the same. Now it’s an iPod instead of a Walkman, a Smartphone instead of a calling card, a laptop instead of a… laptop. OK, it has only been about 20 years, things are that different, but I like to think that I am.
Back then each city was a new adventure. Now they are like rosary beads, their mysteries rubbed smooth from years of repetition. Denver, Detroit, Chicago, Hartford, Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, Brussels, Hong Kong, each one slowly blending together in places where once they stood out.
The only true constant has been myself. Those first few years on my own, I was alone with my thoughts almost constantly. Slipping quietly along in the flow of travelers, reading faces and places, and reveling in my anonymity. I could lose myself in daydreams, become a character from a novel, no one would ever know the difference. But now, 20 years later, there is no escaping from who I am, and what I have become. At age 22 this felt like prison cell, but at 42 it now it feels like cozy chair in front of the fireplace.
Locked inside of this head, I wonder how much I have really changed, and how much remains the same. 41 years is a whole lot of living, and I don’t have any plans to stop now. Some experiences change you, some pass through you like a ghost. Overtime, your worldview and opinions begin to calcify, and form a bedrock upon which the future you will be built. We give little thought to the building process, but surely, stone is laid upon stone, and slowly the building rises.