The Writing Newbie

Writing is an adventure. Enjoy the journey and write the way you love!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Memories on a Train

 The most astonishing thing happened to me today. I took the train to Amsterdam to meet with a friend for a study session. What happened that morning was quite thought provocative as well and I might talk about it later. But what I am still thinking about now is what happened a few hours ago:

I was sitting at the station, on my way home, waiting for my train to come. I sat down on one of the few benches next to this old couple. At first I hardly noticed them and only listened with half an ear as they talked about the trains and they complained about something. (I'm not sure what but complaints at a train station aren't uncommon). 

They seemed ordinary to me. I didn't wonder what they had been doing or where they were going. I didn't wander anything. Somehow, to a lot of people, older men and women don't really seem to count anymore. By the time I had boarded the train and sat a few chairs away from them, they no longer existed in my mind as I focused on some poems due this week. 

But this woman, whose daughter and her friends were reading their Anne Frank books (having just been to the house in A'dam) started a conversation with the couple, after they had asked about the children's unusual reading choice (they were pretty young). 

I didn't really listen at first until I realized what they were talking about.

The couple was telling the mother about the Netherlands and the war. About all they remembered from the time after the war and what their parents had told them. Even the few fleeting memories they had as small children.  They patiently answered all the questions the girls had about that time and Anna Frank (which they both knew a lot about somehow). 

They started talking about themselves some more and their lives--making me completely abandon my poems. I listened to them intensely, amazed by what I heard.

The old man was relating--with great longing and fondness in his voice--about how he and his wife used to travel. He had gone to Indonesia because he got a good job offer there and his wife had gone with. 

While in Indonesia he and his wife longed to travel more. He laughingly told the mother that their first biggest travel was Thailand (refusing to count Indonesia because it was for work). From then on they travelled all over the world: China, Malaysia, North-America, Mexico, Egypt, all around Europe, and many more countries. 

He explained how most of the times they just took their bags with them everywhere. Most mornings they had no idea where they would sleep at night. They talked about seeing the Incan temples and how they could get close and even climb up to the top. He sighed explaining that now you couldn't get as close anymore. 

I marveled as I heard them both express how much they would love to see those countries again and travel to others such as Japan. They still wished to see more. 

The old man started talking about a museum he had visited in Mexico City. He sounded incredibly exited as he recalled how it was one of the most amazing museums he had ever been too. And how they would tell stories about the artifacts and cultures, so gripping, that he could almost see it for himself, almost believed he was there to see it.

They made notes every day on every journal and still read them together sometimes to remember. The man said "Because it's still there. You just have to remember." The notes help them relive their adventures.

Before they got up to leave at their stop, the woman smiled and exclaimed "You have really lived your lives... Isn't that wonderful?"

... And then to imagine that I sat next them at the station, without giving them a second thought at all.

I'm not sure if this post is making sense, but I just couldn't stop thinking about what I had learned about these people who I'll probably never see again. And how I realized that somehow I always seem to forget that old people were young ones. Still dream and have many amazing memories and have had incredible experiences.

And I wanted to remind you all that inspiration can come from anywhere. I could write a book about this couple. Or add them as characters in my novel. Or write about a girl overhearing them talk about their travels and deciding to go off on her own adventures. Or.... you get the point.

Hope you are all alright and that the muses have smiled upon your writing :) (excuse the cheesiness it is very late)

Keep Writing!

Xx Noortje 


  1. Great post. I love stretching my ears, listening in on conversations. You can gain a little wisdom and like you say, some material for writing. Bonus.

    1. I'm glad you like it! ^.^
      Yes I was doing that too but after this I've begun to love eavesdropping on conversations! :)