A few years ago when I was taking my A-levels. For those of you that aren’t British, we take A-levels between the ages of 16 to 18, to gain entry to university – ideally…
Anyway… each morning I got a 7:40am train to one of the nearest colleges, around a thirty minute train ride away. They came, always late, horribly cold in the winter, and perpetually smelling of stale piss. And thanks to the rail system here, costing a fortune. Though, I endured it. What for? I wasn’t really sure. At that point I really had no interest in my education. I suppose I was doing it because… simply there wasn’t anything else to do. Or so I thought.
I trudged into lessons, nihilistically meandering through each endless day. I found it tiringly hard to care about anything, much less the results at the end of a three-hour examination.
And then I went home at 6:00pm, ate, played video games, and went to sleep awaiting the next mundane day. Life went on in exactly this manner, with little to no change, for two years. Slowly, it wore me down. There were very few people I could call friends. Each day brought my anxiety and depression to new levels.
Then it all ended. My examination grades were worse than awful. I hadn’t applied to university. Nothing had changed – and so it went for the two years following…
Then I applied for, and went to university… for a week , that is. Before my anxiety got the better of me.
Though, that’s mostly irrelevant to this. So, back to the train, and the worse times.
One of the only real things I remember of that time is my love for a musical duo called She & Him – consisting of actress Zooey Deschanel and guitarist/singer/song-writer M. Ward. I would get on the train, usually on a seat by myself, put my earphones in, and lean my head against the window in a pit of self-despair. All while the tunes of She & Him broke through the otherwise deafening silence. In those thirty minutes between stations, between the mundanity of two places, music like this was my respite, my safe haven. There were others too, Laura Marling, Camera Obscura, Belle and Sebastian, Emmy the Great, Cults, and many more. Though, She & Him somehow made the biggest impact on me. Sure, maybe some of it resided in the fact that I had… maybe still have a MASSIVE crush on Zooey Deschanel. She’s impossibly sweet! ❤
I heard her voice and his guitar playing and it would take me away from the juddering of the train and the incessant whining of my mind. And on a lunchine distract me from the fact I sat by myself, that I rarely talked to any other person throughout the whole day. It was a place I could relax, a home away from home. A break between lessons where my leg would jutter and my stomach churn with anxiety. Somewhere I could be alone… just me, happy, sad, fucked… whatever. It didn’t matter. Only the music mattered.
Frankly, looking back, it was the worst time of my life. I wish I could go back as I am now. I wonder how different things would be. Yet, maybe they wouldn’t be so different after all. Though, I like to think they would be.
There’s one more train ride/day that stuck in my head. A time much more poignant to me. Maybe I will share that as soon as I know how to tell it.