I find it both ironic and symbolic;
that as I conclude the passing of my 57th year,
of this confused and at most times turbulent life;
I have taken to walking along freight train tracks,
close to where I now find myself in residence.
By strong visceral impulses I am drawn,
to walking the freight train tracks;
now in my 57th year of life,
much as I had done during my pre-teen
and early adolescent years.
During those early childhood years,
I would spend entire Saturdays;
walking along the freight train tracks from just outside Philadelphia, PA;
to its northern and western suburban areas,
along the Schuylkill River with a group of friends.
We would spend the entire day and early evening
on many a Saturday, walking the tracks, throwing rocks into the river,
looking for hidden treasures, hobos (early homeless people) ,
unusual signs of animal life;
anything to tear us away from our hum-drum weekly lives,
attending the prison camp that was then known as Catholic School.
We were looking for our earthly salvation, freedom from confinement,
fleeing structure and a seemingly fruitless journey to nowhere,
with the fear of never experiencing anything worthwhile or exciting
in our young lives.
We would walk along the freight train lines
smoking packs of unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes,
until we turned green from the smoke.
It was one of our rituals.
If we were really lucky,
we could cajole a desperate alcoholic,
with a strong need to purchase his fix,
and the promise of a few extra dollars
into buying for us, a few quarts of beer
to drink on our journey.
Our greatest achievement and thrill was always reserved;
for our hopping on board a slow-moving freight train,
which would take us invariably deep into our day
of adventure and youthful freedom.
At some point as we rode farther and farther away from our homes;
the cigarettes and beer running low,
we would bound from the train,
as the train slowed to navigate a sharp curve,
and we would immediately start the trek back to our homes,
filled with a feeling of pride and accomplishment.
We would start walking back towards where we had started early that day,
And soon another freight train would come slowly at our rear;
providing us with a return ride and a completion to our fleeting adventure.
Now, as I find myself starting the final stages of my life,
I once again find myself walking the freight train lines,
searching for that youthful promise of excitement
or the dream of a new adventure.
There is one very stark and foreboding difference
between my freight train walks now,
and in the my earlier years;
I am now all alone.
There are no friends with which to share tales, thoughts
hopes and dreams or future adventures.
I am walking these tracks alone.
There is another marked difference,
The freight trains no longer slow at the curves in the track lines.
One would be hard-pressed to successfully board one now.
The symbolism of these Saturday moments settles deep.
I have come full circle;
from the bliss of my youthful travels to the disillusionment
of the current state of my life.
I feel now,
no matter how long I continue,
my weekly freight train track walks;
I will never be able to return to those early sanguine days.
I miss my youth.