Monday, March 28, 2011

All Aboard!

Cue moment of nostalgia:

One year ago today, I was packing for the trip of a lifetime - a one month, whirlwind tour to see the globe.  Ok, I saw multiple European countries.  Conquering the entire globe is still on my to-do list, right under "rewrite resume for summer job."

Anyways, I'm having one of those moments where the amount of work separating me from summer vacation seems insurmountable even though I'll be free from academia in just thirty days.  Papers, projects, tests, and thoughts about final exams are getting the best of me tonight. 

All I want to do is relive my month of train travel punctuated with the occasional schnitzel, Belgian beer, bike trip by the Alps, outdoor market in Nice, and Vaporetto ride around the islands of Venice.  Is that too much to ask for?  Yes, maybe it is.  Since I can't actually hop on the Eurail right now, I'll just think back to some memorable occasions onboard...

You can meet some really interesting people riding the train, especially abroad.  I mentioned him briefly on the (lame) blog I kept while abroad, but Eric Ericcson deserves a proper place in one of my posts.  Lindsay and I met him while we rode the train from Aachen, Germany to Brussels, Belgium.  To be honest, we both were a little creeped out by him at first.  I guess society did a great job nailing that whole "stranger-danger" thing into our brains.  He approached us when we were switching trains.  I think he asked us what platform we were going to and when we realized we were all headed the same way, he tagged along - uninvited.  There was also something weird about his ticket.  I vaguely remember some sort of situation where he could have waited a few more minutes at the station and taken a more expensive, faster train but he decided to take ours since we'd all ride together.  That would sketch out any nineteen year old girls traveling alone, right?

Well we had no choice but to be polite, very aware and cautious, but polite.  We boarded the train and sat a few rows away from him.  Eventually he charmed us and we decided he meant no harm.  He asked if he could read the TIME magazines my sister had brought for us.  We actually discussed U.S. political issues and the new healthcare reforms.  My knowledge of politics is pretty limited (I know, I know, shame on me) yet somehow Lindsay and I really impressed Eric and he told us we were the most politically-intelligent Americans he'd ever met.  This makes me think we were the only Americans he'd ever met, but oh well!

Eric was a suave Londoner, think super-posh accent, well-dressed and very well educated.  He told us that he was moving to Texas in a few months for a job with Ericcson.  He wanted to know if everything really was bigger in Texas.  He also wanted to know if people would think it would be humorous on the first day of work if he appeared to be "thug" - oh yeah, Eric was black and his idea of thug came from what he'd seen briefly on Cops.  Lindsay and I were not quite sure how to answer this question.  Our advice was to wait a few weeks and see what company operations were conservative is Texas these days? 

I was a bit depressed when we had to part ways with our new friend.  I'm a bit clingy when it comes to friendships and I don't like seeing them dissolve.  We did not have much of a choice with Eric though.  I've come to the conclusion that there are just certain people who walk in and out of our lives briefly yet manage to leave a profound impact.  Eric was extremely intelligent but down to earth.  He was easy to talk to, engaging, and funny.  My little story about him does not do him justice.  I hope you are able to recall someone like Eric in your own life.  Someone you only knew briefly but felt like you'd known a lifetime.  Maybe then you'd understand what this post is all about - I'm having trouble putting thoughts into words tonight.  Perhaps that's my sign to wrap things up here.

Eric, wherever you are, Texas, London or some place else in this big ol' world, I hope you are doing well.  Thanks for a wonderful train ride and such a unique memory.  You'll have to tell me, is everything bigger in Texas?

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