Returning to school my second semester of college, I took the train from Minneapolis to Poughkeepsie. I took the train a lot that year; visiting / occasionally kissing friends in New York City, wailing at concerts, stalking the streets all night to pass the time until the first morning departure from Central Station. Back then, every trip changed you. It was perpetually exciting; but it also tended to make one feel transparent, stretched out, uncomfortably impressionable. What’s next? I’d sit alone on the Metro North on the way up, looking out the window at the passing Hudson, cheap foam Discman headphones crooning Thom Yorke or Frank Black or Tori Amos into my ears, because I liked Tori Amos once. I wore a lot of my mother’s old clothes then; I’d put her tapestry bag on my lap, tie a worry-stone around my neck, feel the wooden buttons on her pigskin coat. It was comforting to look like her in photographs. I needed to feel predestined in some way to a certain future, tied to some tangible past.
The train ride from Boston to Portland, I realized the only previously-owned-by-a-loved-one article of clothing I had was my ex-boyfriend’s belt. And I didn’t wear it, because — completely unsymbolically — it didn’t happen to go with the rest of my outfit that day. I sat and looked out the window, and when the meaningful music became too much, I put on La Bouche’s “Another Night Another Dream” and closed my eyes.