Saturday, April 05, 2008

Unravelling my way home

1. To separate the fibers or threads of (cloth, for example); also to unravel.
2. To clarify by separating the aspects of.
3. To tangle or complicate.
4. To become separated into component threads; unravel or fray.
5. To become tangled or confused.

1. A raveling.
2. A broken or discarded thread.
3. A tangle.
[Obsolete Dutch ravelen, from ravel, loose thread.]

1. To undo or ravel the knitted fabric of.
2. To separate (entangled threads).
3. To separate and clarify the elements of (something mysterious or baffling);
To become unraveled.

Funny how ravel and unravel mean essentially the same thing, and their meaning is both to clarify/separate AND to complicate/tangle.

Following the railroad tracks back up the coast toward home had a strong similar sensation for me; I was sorting through tangles of thoughts and feelings traveling and spending a week surrounded by people but mostly alone. Walking through supposed historic areas mostly tarted up for tourists who are looking only for a margarita and a t-shirt. Passing through the Santa Ana train station, where I arrived with my mother in 1951, while my father was away during the Korean War; the same station where my parents said goodbye only two weeks after their marriage in 1943. Eavesdropping on the the threads of other peoples' lives all around me. And knitting, knitting, knitting. Since visual perspective makes what appears to be a single thin strand in the distance become a wide ribbon under the wheels, it felt like I was winding up miles of yarn.

The dawn version of the Pacific Surfliner was completely opposite from the midnight train of a week ago; full of fresh faces and optimism, instead of the nadir of humanity. The San Diego station is full of gorgeous tilework, colors softened in the dark.

The two trains idling in the crisp air were poised like horses at the starting gate, occasionally exhaling impatient puffs of breath.

Once on board I gave up my paired seats for an elegantly dressed couple to sit together. They were a lively brother and sister in their 80s, who travel by train from their respective homes to visit another sibling in Laguna Beach. There was a very young musician, who loaded his bicycle and his guitar onto the train in Oceanside and got off looking hopeful into Los Angeles. And outside the window, ecru clouded sky, mirrored in the ocean, all soft edges and lacy curls.

Morning in Union Station was just a more hectic version of the previous week's late-night film noir. There is aching beauty in the high ceilings, arches and tile work,

mostly ignored by hurrying, harried travelers, intent on coffee.
Sharply contrasted with a crude, hand-lettered note taped to the window of the information booth:

Missing grandma. Last seen standing on the Amtrak platform, March 19th....
How sad, all the ways we lose the threads of each other, and ourselves.

Finally we made the long trek down the tunnel to the boarding platform, clambered up the narrow stairs, settled in, and began to roll along toward home.

The railroad on both sides of LA is densely twined with other train tracks, as well as freeway and the Aqueducts
with the walls covered by hieroglyphics

and people making a home in various notches and outflow setbacks.
Eventually the refuse of this fading industrial empire gives way to beaches with solitary swimmers, windsurfers, and hills glowing with the beginnings of will be a riot of lupines.

I know home cannot be far away, when I see fog spilling over the hills to the west of us.

All those miles of thoughts and tracks and yarn started as grass eaten, grown into wool, shorn and processed and spun and dyed, touched by many hands, given by a friend and knitted by my hands into socks that will warm and cushion feet as they walk many miles.


Marianne said...

Oh my, so much to think about, your writing... clear and descriptive, the photos are all wonderful, Union Station is just gorgeous!
So glad to hear it was such a pleasant journey home :^)
That sock is so very pretty!

Amy said...

It just breaks my heart to think about a building that beautiful housing missing grandmas and unappreciative people.

Great sock, though. What pattern?