Wednesday, 10 September 2014

the good kind of transit


We had taken several trains around Italy, but in the weeks leading up to the trip I had been looking forward to this particular train journey the most - indeed it was the only ticket I had bought in advance, before I had even booked a flight to Italy: the train from Venice to Carinthia in Southern Austria, where I was planning to meet my brothers for a couple of days by the lakes and mountains. There are few things that are lovelier than sitting on a quiet train - with a compartment to oneself! - and watching the mountains come closer and closer. Slowly, the landscape changed, from flat land to stark stony mountains, until it eventually turned into hills and mountains covered in deep forests. We drove through tunnel after tunnel, and every time I looked up, the landscape was more familiar. Everything was sweet and delightful: the small piece of peach cake that I had bought that morning in Bologna from a friendly baker, now crumbling; the guitar solo in the song I was listening to, ‚Impossible Germany‘ by Wilco; the books I was reading: ‚The Baron in the Trees‘ by Italo Calvino, which I had started reading on the train to Ravenna, and which I now finished on the train to Austria, having thoroughly enjoyed every single page; and ‚My Salinger Year‘ by Joanna Rakoff, which I had bought in Bologna. This was the perfect book to read on a trip that would include my attendance at a conference where I would represent my institution, a task that seemed daunting and made me feel both very young and very much in control. A book about a young woman trying to figure out what work, and life, is all about? Yes please. (It also felt like a Nora Ephron film turned into an autobiography, which is a definite plus.)

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a wonderful train journey! I'd love to do a similar trip next year. I have also heard good things about My Salinger Year so I will search it out!