Picture a Train Heading Somewhere (Part 1)
In to the Bosom of Mother Russia?
'I knew only that I wanted to write a send-off. My next book would start:"Picture a train heading south." The line felt ordained, as liberating as October azure. But I couldn't wrap myself this opening and begin. I was stalled at departure, for the simple reason that I could do nothing with so perfect a lead sentence but compromise it by carrying it forward.
The words nagged me, like a nursery refrain. I began to imagine it an unconscious allusion. It felt so unsponsored, I could not have invented it.'
Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2
About a week before my 29th birthday I was grooming myself in front of the mirror, an act I normally abhor because of the glazed, blood-shot look of the reprobate that always stares back at me, when I noticed a grey hair protruding from my chest. It was only then that it sunk in that I was in my last year of my 20's and that I was slowly inching towards the next demographic for advertising; the dreaded 35-44. Products that are supposed to excite me will soon be lawn mowers, treatments for receding hair, liposuction for the expanding guts (stomach contents: all the donuts, choice of Coke or Pepsi, pizza, deep-fried caribou and MacDonald's that were a definite must when you are 18-34), recliners, cheap plots for the cemetery, vehicles that can hold up to 8 offspring, etc.
If this was a sitcom and I the neurotic lead , I might have started a list of things to do before I turned 30 that looks something like this...
TABLE 1. UNREALISTIC GOALS PEOPLE SET THEMSELVES IN A TYPICAL SITCOM
1/ Catch a shark.
2/ Bed identical twins that look like Jessica Alba
3/ Consume the most amount of hot dogs in a single sitting
4/ Hunt down and punch the most annoying person back in high school (Note: In the event that you were the most annoying and hated person back in high school this should read- Avoid being beaten up by crazed former nerds who have decided to make a list of everyone that has ever wronged them)
5/ Find the real meaning of Christmas
6/ Star nude in a bed scene in a movie...with Jessica Alba
7/ Win the Nobel Peace Prize, even if it is for one of the crappy categories like Economics or Pumpkin Growing.
8/ Invent a new font.
9/ Cure hiccoughs.
10/ Learn to hacky sack properly.
But that would take too much effort. So what if I can't hacky sack well? And besides there's nothing on the list that I honestly want to do. However there was something that I'd always thought would be cool to do. The Trans-Siberian Railway. I don't exactly know why.