Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Slouching Toward Somewhere.

c. David Grim (taken 4/25/08)

When I was 18, my brother started a tradition for my birthday that carried on for many years afterward. He was about 16 months older than me, and liked to underscore that advantage. He would always wish me a happy day, and then inform me that I would finally be a "real adult" in a year. It was a moving goal-line, and as we got older we laughed more about it. Now that he is forty however, most of the humor of the gag is lost.

I guess there comes a point in everyone's life when they realize that they are no longer a kid. Truthfully, I feel like a "real adult" now, with whatever that entails. It's strange to think how the transformation sprung upon me when I wasn't paying attention anymore.

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about aging lately, so it's no surprise that I was attracted to William Vollmann's book about train-hopping ("Riding Toward Everywhere"-2008), even though it is a bit of a disorganized and rambling mess. When I was in my early 20's, I'd sometimes daydream about jumping on a moving freighter. I even got close to planning it out, but I probably would have done so spontaneously, had I done it at all.

Especially after reading about what that experience is like nowadays, I realize I'm never going to do it. The chance for grievous injury, and all the other accompanying discomforts make it less and less palatable. Vollmann still did it at age 50, but somehow it strikes me as a bit inauthentic after reading about his interactions with modern-day hobos. Maybe I'll ride AMTRAK again instead.


  1. While you've thought about hopping on a freight train, I've thought about finally taking Amtrak to Chicago, and picking up a fellow traveler along the way.