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a penny for your thoughts

I am seating on a train leaving Barcelona and going south. I peek outside the window and I see people coming in and out of the train, their faces as grey as the sky above us, expressionless. Rain appears and disappears capriciously, wrinkling people’s faces in disappointment, and I acknowledge how strongly the weather marks people’s moods.

I barely notice when she sits right in front of me, her backpack on her lap; her coat still on – checking people around her. There is something on her eyes; she has a grin on her face, like being on the train is making her happy or something.

She looks at me – eyes wide open, smile wide open – puts her backpack on the side seat, takes her coat off, folds it, puts it on top of her backpack, pulls the backpack out again, takes an iPhone from the top pocket, a book from the another one, a pack of chewing gum yet from another one. She stretches her arm with it towards me and offers me one. I hesitate and I say an inaudible no, even I would love to have one – and she seems to understand because she smiles and pokes the pack towards me again.

I take a piece and my finger touches her hand, returning the gum and nodding my head as a thank you. She nods back. The gum comes with the smell of her perfume, an extra flavor I hold with the gum on my fingers for two, three, maybe six seconds under my nose.

She sits nice and upright, puts her headphones on, finds some music on her iPhone and opens the book. She takes a deep breath and swims deep on her own world, with her music and her book, for around 15 minutes. I can’t keep my eyes off her lips, playing mechanically with the gum in her mouth. I cant keep my eyes off her chest, moving up and mechanically neither, and I wonder if she notices it, until her chest holds up, her body tensing, her eyes make a frown, her mouth stops chewing and she finishes reading the page, moves impatiently to the next one and when she finishes that chapter, her chest finally deflates while her lips exhale a soft wooow….

She takes a pause, relaxes her shoulders, lifts her gaze up and finds mine. She smiles, I don’t think she smiles to me, she just smiles, and I envy whatever she is feeling reading Shantaram.

Out of the city grayness we approach the coastline and the train emerges from a tunnel, approaching Sitges. The light in the sky changes as the ocean opens to us. She nearly jumps from her seat and places lightly her hand on the window, her eyes shinning, her mouth open wide. Any other would think that this is a reaction of somebody seeing the ocean for the first time, but I look at her, at the imprint her fingers are leaving on the glass, and I am recognize these are two old friends meeting each other again, her and the sea.

I want to say a penny for your thoughts, I wonder what is she thinking, because she seems to be thinking a lot but whatever is she thinking, or whoever she is thinking about, seems to be so personal that I may not understand neither for a penny nor for a million.

I envy whatever she is thinking. I envy whatever she is feeling.

The voice above us breaks the magic announcing we reached Sitges. I have to go but I don’t seem to leave my seat. She observes everything with the same enthusiasm she did as she boarded the train. I pick up my stuff as she sets Fous De La Mer on her ears. She politely smiles to me again and I smile back. From the platform I look back and see her looking down, but she doesn’t look at me, she sees beyond me, to the church, to the buildings, to the streets, to the ocean.

The train starts and she disappears in the distance.



9 Comments Post a comment
  1. MT #

    Innom for å ynskje deg ei fredfull og god julehøgtid.


    December 24, 2010
  2. LOVE THIS. Just love it.

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

    December 27, 2010
  3. Tom G. #

    Wonderful story. I am always amazed when I travel, and quietly observe the people around me. Each one has a story, and an entire life full of secret dreams, and fears. I want to know them all, and yet I realize that I have hardly begun to decipher my own. How can I possibly begin to understand theirs? This is why the thought of an omniscient God who knows everything, just hurts my head to try to comprehend. Infinity is a big number.

    December 27, 2010
  4. dufmanno #

    I miss that kind of genuine reaction to so many things. So many of us seem to put that mask you talk about on when we trudge from place to place while traveling. Just destination A to B. Getting there and the the excitement of the journey itself is most of the fun.
    That’s a lesson I should probably take to heart this new year!
    Hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that photo is beautiful. I’d like to be there right this very second.

    December 31, 2010
  5. beautiful description!

    January 3, 2011
  6. what a lovely description. I read that book, shantaram, totally recommend it

    January 4, 2011
  7. i envy her feelings too. it’s been too long since i’ve returned somewhere and was so happy to be soaking in all the geography, landmarks, and familiar places.

    January 9, 2011
  8. What an absolutely lovely story and picture (the written one and the one in this post).

    And not just because I love most things that refer to Barcelona in any capacity…

    Thanks for this.

    – B x

    January 20, 2011

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