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16+ Language

29 Capitol Limited

by BluesClues

Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

I love looking out the train windows and watching America slip past.

I have this idea, God knows why, that I need to go someplace alone. I mean, I've been places alone before, of course. I'm an introvert. "I'm trying to have some alone time but I'm too polite to tell you to go away" is my motto. I take walks alone at Wildwood Metropark. I eat lunch alone in the Student Union. I stay up two hours later than my roommates each night so I can sit on the couch alone and watch TV in the dark, even though I know it's bad for my eyes and, quite frankly, my eyes are bad enough already.

But when it comes to things that matter, I don't do them on my own. I don't do them at all, if I can help it. Or I take so long to do them that they become way more stressful than they probably actually are, like when I applied for college admissions and scholarships. The only way I can get myself to do something unpleasant, without help, is to do it all at once. That's how I moved out of my parents' house: I was supposed to leave on August 13, 2011, but I was so jittery by then that I packed as much stuff as I could into the Neon when I got home from my last day of work on August 12 and left then instead.

And then, when I do leave, I have this strange and morbid conviction that I can't go back, which is utter bullshit. Not only can I go visit my parents, but I do whenever possible.

This train ride is my first time coming back from a visit on my own. Usually my fiance is with me: driving the whole ten hours from my parents' new apartment in Alexandria to his house in Toledo, or leading me to the lounge car that time we took the train. This time I'm alone, and I had to ask directions from a polite, blue-uniformed attendant. Otherwise I'd probably still be wandering the corridors, trying to look like I know where I'm going for the benefit of the passengers who don't notice me anyway.

I know that sounds pathetic, but you know how men are supposed to be about directions? That's how I am about directions. Except in my case it's because I feel really awkward going up to people I don't know and saying things to them. It's why I don't compliment other women on their necklaces or shoes and didn't ask any of the other people in line to see Khaled Hosseini at the National Book Festival how they liked his newest book, which I have yet to read.

I don't know what I think my solo train ride will change. Nothing, probably. I may have to buy my own food from the cafe, but someone else is still taking me home. Someone else is still calling the shots. And let's face it: I'm not going to talk to anyone, make a bunch of one-night train-ride best friends like my youngest sister does. I said "Gesundheit" when my seatmate sneezed, asked that attendant for directions, and requested that a couple who sat near me in the lounge car watch my laptop while I went downstairs for food, but I can promise you that will be the extent of my social interaction on this train.

I think I'll get a lot more out of my solo road trip in two weeks. I'm driving to Conover, North Carolina, to visit my best friend, who's a teacher there. There won't be any social interaction to avoid, but there will be decisions to make and discomfort to deal with.

Nothing might come of that either, though. I don't quite know what change I want or expect, but still: what if it doesn't happen? What if I'm always stuck in a small life because I'm too cowardly to do things for myself? And how will I teach my children to be strong when I am so clearly not? And if I do teach them, what then? Do I rely on their pity for the rest of my life, trust them with each of my decisions and hope it's the one I would've made if only I were braver?

Or will they come to despise my spinelessness, their pitiful, weak mother so cautious that she cannot get unstuck from her own life?

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1313 Reviews

Points: 23286
Reviews: 1313

Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:32 am
Hannah wrote a review...

Hey there, Blue Africa!

What I really want to say right off the bat is that I love how solidly you've set up your character. I like the list of the things you do on the train, but that's the extent of them. Hours later (I first read this in the morning), I still remember that you asked for directions, asked someone to watch your laptop, and said one other thing. The details stick out and are clear -- they help build your reality.

But the general narrative in this essay is incomplete! This is especially clear because you end with a line that opens the reader up to more questions. You introduce a completely new character we've never heard of -- your mom -- and that definitely doesn't function as a conclusion. In fact, you've made no new trains of thought to really call this an essay. It's more a description of a day you had and some thoughts about it -- like a journal entry?

I think this is a good thing to have written. It captures your thoughts at this point in time and gives you a better chance of coming back to them after the change and still being able to understand your past self. But for the reader, we want a full moment. We want to see the change you talk about, see the results of it, and yeah see these moments that came before it. I'd say come back to this piece after something changes for you -- essays about realizations are usually pretty strong.

Hope this review will be helpful for you!
Good luck and keep writing!

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508 Reviews

Points: 36791
Reviews: 508

Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:05 pm
dragonfphoenix wrote a review...

Knight Dragon, here to review!

I didn't find any technical things to comment on, so I'll discuss the content.
I liked how the description and such was, but I felt like this really did "come to nothing" by the end of the post. And I had no idea what this person's gender is until the last sentence. That was really awkward.
Also, I don't have a name. GIVE ME A NAME!!! I want to know who (whom is correct but I don't care) I'm reading about. Tell me what their name is, and please make the gender clear. It's awkward to read if I don't know that. [PS- A name would really help with that.]

Hope this helps!

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.
— W.H. Auden