Monday, June 21, 2010

Heavy Metal

boot camp

Yes, Creativity Boot Camp is going at its own pace in my house. And I don't know when I'll finish. That's not the point. At least, that's what they tell me over there. So, bear with me. While everyone else is finished. I am on Day Four.

When I was about five months pregnant, Mango and I went to the Whistle Stop Bed and Breakfast in New York Mills, MN. I brought along my prenatal yoga DVD and practiced every day in our very own train car while Mango tried to convince me that pregnancy looked good on me. He even took my picture while I was up to me ears in bubble bath. (Yes, the train car had a whirlpool tub.)

We came home with a heavy chunk of metal as a souvenir: a railroad spike painted gold, the signature gift of the Whistle Stop B&B. It was such a strange gift, heavy and spray-painted. We still have it, and I've contemplated from time to time what it means (being a person who contemplates the meaning of the unexpected and unusual in life - see my posts about double-yolked eggs...oh, and there were several more double yolked eggs one morning last week - we're still wondering about the meaning of this...).

The "original" golden spike was driven by Leland Stanford at the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, a commemoration of the union of the two major railroads in the U.S. at the time. I like that - a symbolic spike tying the two railroads together...railroads that go a lot of different directions but are ultimately united and work together for the same purposes and goals. And that's what Mango and I are - two people working on various separate things in life but ultimately united together in purpose, in goals, in meaning. And there we were about to have our first baby, half of my DNA bound to half of his DNA to create something completely new and different, a golden spike, if you will, tying us together, not just in purpose and spirit but in the real physical world. It isn't that we weren't bound together before, but a baby is a tangible, physical bond...not evidence of our bond, but an actual real life bond - part of me and part of him.

I just have to sit with that for a while.

Then I think of all the things that railroads mean. My grandfather worked for Burlington Northern for his entire work career. Perhaps that's why I find some fascination with railroads, though he never spoke with me about his work. Or, perhaps, it's because I grew up with the movie Stand By Me, and there was something so captivating about following a railroad track. Railroad tracks are on a mission to somewhere and they slice through so much of life along the way. Like my life. And Mango's life. And our children. Yet the whole thing is tied together by these spikes, grounded, stable, connected to the solid terra firma and to every other track.

And it was on the old railroad bridge over Lake Calhoun where Mango first told me that I was beautiful. This was before we were a couple. And I didn't know what to say. There I was on those old tracks, not even knowing which direction my life was going or what to say about it. I like the way that old railroad tracks sit in the ground and the grass and flowers grow up around them, and they seem almost (but not quite) like part of the natural world all over again. They remind me of the past, of the people who came before me and the things that make me who I am today. And I can still follow those old tracks to somewhere...and sometimes they meet up with some new tracks, like the Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis, like the way layers of my life meet up and are sort of the same but altogether different...all tied together by those heavy chunks of metal. Heavy metal. 


  1. Very beautiful thoughts. I nearly cried, it was so very touching to read. I love finding the hidden symbolism in things in my life, too. Wish I had time to do it more often!

    Don't feel bad about not being done with Creativity Boot Camp, I'm not finished either. I think I'm on "ornament," whatever day that was supposed to be :p

  2. "Railroad tracks are on a mission to somewhere and they slice through so much of life along the way." -- How very beautiful, and how true.


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