|Gypsy crossing - Moldova 2015|
I opened my tired eyes and looked back toward the locomotive to see that nearly the whole train was empty. There was one stop left, the last stop, and the sun was setting quickly in the summer sky. It was half an hour after nine, during that weird period where it's late but it's still a bit light outside. It was as if the Earth wanted to milk daylight just a little bit longer.
I looked through the window again at what seemed to be an infinite track of rail that was increasing by the second and reaching slowly across the planet's entire circumference.
With one deep breath I squinted my eyes, grasped the handle bar to my left, and hit the button between the two doors that separated myself from the world outside. The doors flew upon and my hair flew behind me as the wind hit my face like the air out of a rocket engine. I planted my boots firmly upon the rusted steel step of what had become the caboose. And I LIVED.
That was it. There was something about being so close to death that ironically made me feel ALIVE. It occurred to me that when I felt lost, it was in the most extreme situations that I found myself. On the edge of a mountain in the Rockies, or before a cliff above the California shore. It was stumbling into a butchers shop in Italy to muster up the courage to tell the man slicing a pound of salami, "Mi dispiace che non parlo bene, sono Americana." And now here.
Gypsy children in a small caravan - side
of the road Moldova/Romania - 2015
I was Amanda. Lost at an inch from death upon rusted steel ledge on an Eastern European train that flew through the present and into the future. I was anchored by the harsh reality of where I was headed, and that there was no slowing down by any means. But by American dreams I was carried the entire way. Even now, I am lifted from my window by a gift for which I cannot repay my father. The gift of being American.
As I held to the handle beside the wide open door of the train car, I decided I wouldn't look back. And I didnt.