On a train, somewhere in Sweden

This is for a Writer’s Workshop I host in my 5th grade class.  It’s a smattering of experiences and conversations I’ve had, traveling northern Europe with Fiona.  

Sweden passes by at a few hundred kilometers per hour.  Strange then, that the snowy land seems to rise and fall so slowly as our train roars through the countryside.  It is rhythmic, hypnotic, like the surface of the sea on a slow afternoon with no surf.

The train would be that quiet too.  The ticket office mistakenly bumped my seat into first-class, so no screaming babies, no grotty teenagers who think everyone should be turned on to the dub mix that blasts from their phone.  Just businessmen on laptops and elderly folks taking naps.  The thing is, I’m not travelling alone.  Fiona is here with me.

“Lookit that house!” she exclaims as we pass the millionth red-paneled classical Scandinavian-style farmhouse.

“So cool,” she adds confidently.

We pass animals, she wonders what they must be thinking about all day.  We pass plowed fields, she wonders what they grow out there.  We pass more fields, and she wonders what they grow out there too.  Then the deep, philosophical questions begin.

“I wonder how they get the peanut into a peanut M&M.  Is it like a layering thing, or do they smash the two halves together, or what?”

“If two people farted in an elevator at the same time, and they’re the only people in the elevator, would that be okay, or still kinda rude?”

There are  questions about our future.

“Do you think it will be cloudy and cold when we get there, or sunny and cold?  Because I like sunny, but I hate cold.  If it’s sunny, I’ll be able to handle the cold a lot better.  I hope it’s sunny.”

“Do you know, is our hostel going to be warm or not?  I mean, there are some hostels we’ve been to with open windows and thin walls, but then of course that was Singapore and that place is always hot so that’s okay.  I wonder if this place will have open windows, because if it does than I’ll be cold and I don’t like that.”

I smile and nod, or say things in response like, “Hmph.  Wow.  I really don’t know.”  I’m just trying to enjoy the passing scenery.

That’s when I realize, the passing scenery is not what makes this trip such a pleasure.  Really, take a trip through central Sweden some time, you’ll agree.  Just fields and red farmhouses.

What makes this trip great is the running script from my wife, who I’m fairly convinced is possessed by the ghost of Pippi Longstocking.  If not for her, I’d be bored stupid.  Red farmhouses indeed!

With that, I reach across the small table that separates us, take her hand in mine, and say, “My love, if I were in that elevator and farted, you know I’d blame it on you.”

fiona on a train

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