I commute to work on the train. I prefer it to driving as it gives me a bit of a walk in the mornings, to and from the station, but more so because I get to spend an extra hour a day reading. This is not the strange part.
I work in Burbank, but live in Santa Clarita, meaning that part of my daily ride takes me through a mile and a half long tunnel. There are no lights in the tunnel, and at the speed the train usually travels on that length of track, it takes over two minutes to come out the other end.
It is daylight when the train enters the tunnel and suddenly everything is pitch black outside the windows. If you look hard enough, you can just barely see the tunnel walls less than a foot from the windows. Because the walls are so close, a heavy, but somewhat muted rushing noise can be heard.
After a few seconds in the tunnel, I begin to feel strange. It’s hard to explain, but I get the feeling that all of us on that train are never going to get off, that we’re going to be riding in that car forever through the dark. It’s a heavy, but not overwhelming sadness; it’s a dull ache, not a stabbing pain.
No one talks, no music is playing, and everyone looks pale and tired under the blue fluorescent lights. I can’t read when I’m in the tunnel. I try, but I keep re-reading the same page over and over with nothing sticking in my mind.
The car rocks slightly as it moves, and every once in a while someone will look around. No one smiles. Somehow I can’t get it out of my head; the tunnel will never end. I’m not claustrophobic, and I’m not afraid. The feeling is one of sadness, of resignation, as if we’ve already been there too long to be afraid anymore. It’s a very odd sensation: knowing that you’ve accepted this fate. It’s more than just a daydream, at least at the time.
Then the train breaks out into the light again, and I’m back. The sun is usually setting at this point, broadcasting golden light that makes everything in the car seem instantly transformed.
I didn’t fully realize all of this until just last night, but I know my mind has been working on this a while. I just thought I’d share.