Stop This Train

I was standing in Bevan's kitchen earlier tonight, a messy heap of clean laundry cooling on the counter in front of me, when a song came on the Pandora station I was listening to that made my stomach flutter. I let the t-shirt I was folding fall, half-finished, back onto the pile and crossed the room to a stool so I could sit and listen.

Don’t know how else to say it
I don’t want to see my parents go
One generation’s length away
From fighting life out on my own

So scared of getting older
I'm only good at being young
So I play the numbers game
To find a way to say that life has just begun

Stop this train
I wanna get off and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't
But honestly, won't someone stop this train

Had a talk with my old man
Said help me understand
He said turn sixty-eight
You'll renegotiate

Don't stop this train
Don't for a minute change the place you're in
And don't think I couldn't ever understand
I tried my hand
John honestly, we'll never stop this train


My forehead was pressed against the cold glass window of a South Shore train the first time I heard those lyrics. I was making my way from Chicago to Indiana and an endless stretch of snow-covered nature was all I saw for miles and I let that song, part of a playlist a friend had made for me, run through my headphones on repeat. I remember the words making me feel helpless about something that seemed a great ways off then, but I listened again and again until eventually I felt nothing at all.

In the afternoon my parents picked me up from the station at Carroll Avenue. The snow was falling slowly in the kind of flakes you might try and catch on your tongue if you're young enough, and I can recall that neither of them were wearing coats when they got out of the car to hug me but they were happy and smiling and I thought again about the words in that song and tried to push the feelings they brought with them far down so that they might get lost somewhere. It was in that moment, it seems to me now, when I had hoped hardest that it might never be someday.