Saturday, August 22, 2009

Train from Divača

The next morning, I had to leave Slovenia but didn't want to go. I woke up at five in the morning (a time that doesn’t even register on my clock) and darling Wendy woke up too.

Somehow I managed to pile everything back into the red backpack and again I looked like a pack mule. Along with all I brought, I now had a stack of books by Slovenian writers and six days full of poems, visits with Mao, near-death experiences in the white van, and a fish dinner that looked more like a pet than a meal. The bag felt heavier, but in a good way.

I heaved the bag into the blue van, a little sad that it wasn't the white van or the yellow van but fitting since I arrived at Vnck in a blue car. Kelly, fearless leader, managed to drive and stay awake without fifty cups of coffee in her. On the drive we talked about Prague and what lay ahead. I thought about what I would be missing: Laurie’s lecture and Mark’s, Domenic’s reading, Nick’s graduating reading and the mini-graduation ceremony, workshopping Nick’s poems, riding in the white van. The orientation for Prague would be on Sunday and it was an all-day trip to get there from Slovenia. Even starting out at 6:07 a.m. in Divača, I wouldn’t reach Prague until 8:11 p.m.

Ticketless and half-asleep, I landed at the Divača train station. Two people who looked equally lost, those less laden with baggage, crossed the tracks to the far side so I figured that had to be the arrival track. There were no announcements, no signs showing departures or arrivals. The clock on the platform showed I’d arrived a few minutes early

I waited and watched for the train

At some point a train official stumbled out of the train building, though he looked no more informed than I was. He straightened his stiff conductor’s cap and looked around the station, apparently saw that all was in order, and returned to his hiding place.

All of the trains in the station were sleeping.

The train station looked plucked out of Bohumil Hrabal’s Closely Watched Trains, a book I read long before I thought about going to Prague. The book had special meaning for me since a friend and I found it in the St. Mark’s bookshop after a long time looking.

St Marks Bookshop

In Britain, the title translated as “Closely Observed Trains,” and here is the movie poster, though I never saw the film:

I felt like an extra on the set of Bohumil Hrabal’s imagination as I waited for the train. When it arrived, I climbed into the car with everything in tow and promptly fell asleep, waking only to buy a ticket and disembark in Ljubljana.

Luckily, the train terminated in Ljubljana. Otherwise, I would have slept all day. I tumbled out of the train, disoriented, but awake enough to buy a ticket to Prague.

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