Trains are boring, and other solitary thoughts

24 Apr

Did you know that Chernobyl is now a tourist attraction? Yes, the site of the 1986 nuclear meltdown is open for visits. I found this out while riding the fast train home from the millenium-old town of Limburg an der Lahn. The previous occupant of my seat had left behind a copy of WOZ, which is apparently a Swiss weekly newspaper with left-leaning convictions. My mind was tired from a week of working with kids and getting lightly scrambled from the beer I was drinking, but I attempted valiantly to read the German text and get to the bottom of this Chernobyl business. As near as I can tell, you pay about a hundred bucks for a bus ride in, they give you a Geiger counter as some sort of gimmicky tourist thing, people walk around the rubble taking pictures, and so on. I extracted these and other facts, but still don’t know the overall tone of the article. The author seems to think the whole thing is stupid, but also that we need to remember Chernobyl so that nothing like it happens again… oops.

I put the paper down and stared out the window for awhile. The sun was bright and it felt more like summer outside than the middle of Spring. Did I mention I was tired? My gaze wandered towards a couple that sat a few rows down. When, an hour before, I was getting on the train after saying goodbye to Shuah, they walked up to her and started talking in German. Apparently they knew her from Berlin, and now they were sitting nearby. The woman looked incredibly familiar, like I had seen her many times before but never talked to her. Where could I have known her from? This thought nagged at me every time I looked in her direction.

A couple days before I had had the night off and spent it wandering around town. Coming from Denver, where a 120 year-old building is really old, I’m still mesmerized by these old fucking places. The bridge over the Lahn had an ancient guard tower that I walked around. From there I could see, lit up from below, an old church which turned out to be the Limburger Dom. I made my way through weird, windy streets and emerged, eventually, at the foot of this place.

this place is old!

Imagine it’s nighttime, though. The place has been recently restored, freshly painted. It appears brand new, although it was consecrated in 1235.

The glare of the sun started to bother me, so I pulled the shade down some and read more of WOZ. “Sunday from Light,” the final part of Stockhausen’s opera cycle “Light,” is receiving its posthumous premiere in Cologne right now. The reviewer spent most of the article giving a history lesson on good ol’ Karlheinz and his reception in popular culture, including of course his appearance on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the back row of the collage of famous weirdos. I lost interest and drifted off into bored contemplation of the gigantic VW plant that we passed, and the massive bird nests from last year still hanging out in the bare trees. That last bit is my favorite thing about these train rides.

Later, back in Berlin, I was riding the U-Bahn out to Kreuzberg to meet up with some friends when I suddenly remembered where I knew the girl on the train from. She was staying in the hostel in Istanbul the same week Jason and Jessica and I were there. She and her friend were always reading newspapers and not talking to anyone else and this, along with her general good looks, attracted me to her. See, there’s a certain kind of aloofness I tend to go for in women. Some emanate this vibe of guarded solitariness that makes me interested. What a weird coincidence, I thought to myself.

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2 Responses to “Trains are boring, and other solitary thoughts”

  1. dingerfan April 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    This does look like a fun place to visit:
    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/04/chernobyl_disaster_25th_annive.html

    • ianmdm April 25, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

      yeah, right?

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