Lonesome

We are time travelers, aren’t we?  Consider how a particular sound or smell can suddenly snatch you from the moment you’re in to some distant point in time.  Time travelers.  I experienced just such a moment recently while traveling.

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We were driving down some two lane backroad in the middle of nowhere just as the last drop of light disappeared against the ink black sky, when I heard it.  The long whistle blow from the tracks that ran parallel to the road, took me far away.  It took me to a place where I experienced an emotion for the first time, a feeling that I did not yet have a word for nor understanding of …. loneliness.

I have to have been 4 or maybe 5 yrs old.  We had moved into some shanty clapboard house in G-d only knows what state or town as we moved so often and far.  But, I remember playing on hardwood floors, my birthday there and even as small as I was, how tiny the backyard was that butted up against the railroad tracks.

The people next door had 13 children.  I’d watch them play together and try to talk to them through the chain link fence, wishing I could be there too but we were strangers and their family kept to themselves.  I see myself so small, fingers grasping the links, listening to their boisterous play with a face both hopeful and sad.

The first few weeks, I could not sleep, as the trains passed by blowing their whistles, shaking the tiny house and everything in it.   How lonely the whistles call sounded in the night, lonely like me, yearning for the little street where my grandmother lived… the only place that felt like home.  I’d slip from my bed to watch the steam plume from the stack on the frosty air.  The clickety clack of steel wheels upon the rail reflected the longing of my feet to run away home.

But soon, I grew accustomed to my solitude and the night trains passing by.  The tinkling dishes in rattling cupboards, the wail and clack of wheels, became as comforting as a lullaby….as familiar as a friend.  And the tiny house near the railroad tracks, that trembled and swayed, rocked me gently to sleep.  More than 50 years have passed since then yet that sound, that wail in the darkness, still sounds so much like loneliness to me.

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I’m so lonesome I could cry

Hank William’s – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

Always with love – Laura

P.S. After reading my blog, my mother messaged me.  Conversation that followed…

MOM: We lived in Miami Oklahoma then. We didn’t stay there very long.

Me:  I didn’t know where In the world we were at the time but felt certain we didn’t stay long though I remember christmas and my birthday there so at least a month. I remember sitting Indian style on the floor watching Lassie in black & white.  One was an episode where she was lost & hungry and the boy gave her a sandwich but said he didnt have any more and I cried. Lol  Animal lover!   Might have been lassie go home.  For christmas, I got this contraption that would melt rubber into shapes and I burned my finger on it.  I always think of that thing and can almost smell it, when I marvel at how dangerous our toys were then and yet we survived. Lol #LeadBasedPaint
On my birthday, my (step) dad came home, went to your bedroom. He acted angry, calling me to take a whipping.  I didnt know what I had done but when I laid over his lap for the spanking, he laughed and started counting my birthday licks.  He was pulling a joke on me and trying to be funny and playful. He didn’t realize how scared he made me or that my tears were terror to relief. Seem that I had grown happy there for the brief time we stayed.  I think he also brought me the metal strips with holes in it that he’d find along the tracks and taught me to bend them to make a whistle.

Mom: Wow, the things kids remember. I hardly remember living there until you brought it up.

Me: Funny too I can remember that so long ago but took me 30 min to remember where I sat my phone down. This morning. Lol

Mom: I know, right? Just like how I remember songs that mom sang when I was very small but I don’t know any new ones.

Me: 🤣 well, give it a few years and you’ll remember them like they were yesterday! Hahaha

 

COPYRIGHT ALERT
©Laura M. Bailey, All the shoes I wear & writing down the Bones, 1990–Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Laura M. Bailey with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

49 comments

  1. We moved a number of times when I was growing up. It was just before I entered eighth grade when we finally bought a place after years of renting. That was the first time I felt like the place was home.

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    • Thank you so much for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave me a note. I visited yours as well and within a very few posts, could tell you are a wonderful writer! Marvelous imagery! I look forward to reading you more!😊💕

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  2. You have me 2 fond memories. One if being 4 or 5 yrs old, laying on the floor with my dad and watching something in b/w, maybe The Honeymooners, as my mom brought us freshly made tortilla chips.
    The other being a little over 25yrs ago, when I moved to an apt that was overwhelmed by loud live bands from a popular beach bar, and a tree with a massive amount of chirping birds. Both were massively annoying when I moved in but soon became enjoyable. When I moved, I really missed the bar bands as they’d become a sort of “soundtrack” for my life.

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    • Thank you, Dwight! There’s such a nostalgia in revisiting our roots, memories, the collected experiences that make up the pieces of who we are. My mom, we have such a great relationship with often hilarious conversations. I’m so blessed to still have my mom and enjoy the reminiscing and laughter together.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this. It reminds me of hearing trains also in my childhood, although they were far away and that just added to the feeling of loneliness and the urge to travel to the far away west of my Zane Grey novels.

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  4. Hey chieflittlebritches 😁

    I saw your request and I guess you didn’t see my last post. I’m out for a while. So I put the blog on private status. I’m sorry about that.

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  5. Your post makes me wonder if our kids remember the train sounds? We still live next to the train that rumbles by several times a night. And the sound of the birds in the morning. Interesting post – I love that you admit you can’t find your phone you set down a half-hour earlier but can remember the trains! Such a fun train of thought post, Laura!

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    • Thank you so much Shelly! Lol ” Train of thought”.
      I’m sure they do, or will. I didn’t revisit my childhood often when I was young…too close to it, I suppose. I did more so once I had children of my own. It took me back to my own and we tend to share them with our kids. Then as I’ve grown older, I’ve found I am more readily reminded of it in the smallest things. Perhaps as we grow older, we are more apt to take stock of our lives, gather the wool that shows we were here and retell the story, of us. 😊

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  6. Dear Laura, you whisked me away to your childhood home through this piece. So beautifully written! I love your poet’s heart. My grandparents’ house was just up the hill from the railroad tracks. We played on the tracks for fun, since there was no such thing as a playground within miles! I know well the song of the train whistle and wheels. I often took long walks in the woods nearby and like you, enjoyed the quiet solitude with God. Thank God your mom was able to fill in the gaps for you. How precious those memories. May God bless you, wherever the train of life may take you from here!

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    • Thank you so much, Melissa! This has to be one of the nicest comments I’ve ever recieved! You made my day! And, thank you so much for sharing a bit of your childhood and home with me as well! These are such previous memories and such a blessing to be able to tell the story of us. G-D bless you & keep you.

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  7. We have the light rail running all the time next to our house here in the city. I always hear it’s little beeps, I don’t know how to describe it’s noise. We also live a few feet away from a huge hospital so we hear the rescue helicopter and sirens a lot. When we are up north in the woods it is so quiet I can’t sleep. We hear elk during mating season and coyotes all the time. Sometimes it is so quiet up there it can seem lonely to me but it is nice once you get used to it. You have an excellent memory, what a gift.

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    • Most of my adult life was spent as a city dweller yet finding myself in latter years, in the country, I discovered that I’m at most at ease in solitude. I think it’s something I learned in childhood. Moving around the way we did, I soon learned to be friendly with others bit the pointlessness of making friends as at any time, they’d be left behind, so I had to learn to be comfortable being alone, I guess.
      Perhaps too, the hustle & bustle and noise of city life, gave me an appreciation for silence. But, that’s a misnomer, there’s always sound if we listen….birds, crickets, frogs croking, bee, the breeze rustling, but how lovely the sounds of nature. And the city lights! It’s never really night but only twilight but in the country the night is black as ink and the sky more readily seen. The few bright stars in a city, become countless in the country sky, billions & billions of stars!

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      • My favorite part about being up north are all those stars at night. Sometimes my husband and I will sit in the back of the truck and stare up at all of them, just amazing how many there are. It is breathtaking to see in person.

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  8. I always find train whistles comforting and a throw back in time. We lived a few blocks away from the railway line but could still hear the whistle as the train went through the station. The suburban trains had a deep beep as the train left the station too. Used to love standing on the overhead bridge when the steam trains came through. Fun time. Thanks for your memories invoking mine x

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    • Funny how we associate sounds and smells in different ways. I love trains, particularly the old steam trains. Later, I remember walking tracks looking for those metal strips to make whistles like my step dad had showed me, standing near them, urging the conductor to blow the whistle as they passed by…..but the sound of that whistle at night still sounds so lonesome to me. I guess the sound attached to the lonesomeness I felt in that place in time where I first heard the train whistle blow. Yet, I still love the memory. 😊

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      • The sound of the whistle in the countryside would sound lonesome compared to the city whistles. I can see a steam train chugging across the plains in the moonlight.
        Memories are so important and they are stories to tell the children

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  9. The smell of steam is something I can relate to and it takes me back to journeys of my childhood from London to Aberdeen. Now it’s something that I can only experience by finding a steam special or visiting a preserved railway.

    The whistle doesn’t speak of loneliness to me though – probably because my Grandfather was an engineman – instead it is just a warning of approach for trackside workers and the public. I’m guessing there was a crossing near your house.

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    • I can only imagine what experience that might’ve been for you! I can only dream. There is such a one as you’ve described that runs from Durango colorado to Silverton. They have scenic tours of this beautiful area and indeed, it would be a stunning winter wonderland tour. The locomotives are 1923-25 vintage and are maintained in original condition also remain 100% coal-fired, steam-operated. If I ever find myself in Durango again, I will ride that train!

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      • It is so beautiful there. The last time I found myself there, a deep blanket, road sign tall, covered everything…the mountains, valleys and the giant ponderosa pines, yet it is a different kind of cold, a cold where you’re standing hip deep in snow in a short sleeve t-shirt. Silverton, an old west type mining town that sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains. A charming place you dont want to miss.

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