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  • You only have one chance and you can only go in one direction. I wake up some mornings with the romantic idea of hopping a train. Other mornings I wake up with the mature decision to go to school.
    I’m from Tucson, Arizona. Life here is not for me. I mean, I can’t stay here forever. One night I was downtown, sitting by the train tracks behind the warehouses on 6th St. and Stone Ave, a spot me and my friends refer to as the “Trax.” The sun was setting and wind was blowing, as the sky turned from light blue to orange, pink, and then purple. All of a sudden I heard a ding ding ding and felt the roll of the train’s wheels against the iron tracks. Nobody else was in sight. I felt alone, but not lonely. As the train zoomed past me, I watched each freight car go by. As each one went, another one came. It made me feel like I was spinning. I became so caught up in the ideas that I’ve had with hopping a train that it became dangerous. I had to snap out of it.
    I’m 17 and have had no real adventures. I’ve never even ridden a train—not even the Amtrak—but I just wanted be on that train so bad. The imaginations I’ve had about hopping trains are so vivid that even thinking about them now gives me an adrenaline rush. I’d hop on the train with some friends. We would watch the cacti go by in a blur of green and brown. We’d go to cities in other states and stay with our friends. If we didn’t have any friends we would make some, find random jobs to make spare change, play music and camp just a few yards away from train tracks. As immature as it sounds, I think life is meant to be lived carefree. I don’t think humans naturally love going to school or having a job, working the 9 to 5. I think everyone in the world just wants to be free. I understand that everyone needs a job but I think outside of money is where people are truly free.
    That train made me feel so dismal about the place I’m from. This city makes me feel so trapped. It doesn’t give me hope. I don’t want to end up like most of the kids from this town. I don’t want to go to the U of A, I don’t want to stay in this heat all year. It seems like Tucson is the only place I’ll ever know. It makes me feel like the whole world is like Tucson, which is what makes me so sad.
    I want to travel to every state in America, but what is the likelihood that I would ever get a job with even Master’s degree that could pay for that trip? Right now, my grades in high school aren’t so hot. I struggle a lot in school because I feel like it’s trapping me. I daydream all day during classes, then after school I go straight to hanging out and having fun outside. I live with just my Mom. She works at a cafe as a cook, and we get a check from social security every month, just enough for the necessities and a little bit more, so it’s not like she’s going to give me money to travel to Europe. I don’t see myself going to any acclaimed colleges. Maybe the community college, but that’s about it.
    Looking at that train, it seemed like life came down to this question: spend most of my growing life in school, to get a job that won’t even get me enough money to make up for all those years of feeling like shit, or skip school, and never have to worry about money in the first place? Sure I would miss out on seeing fancy art museums in France or having a big house, but I figure the best things in life are free.
    I watched the train go by. It went around the bend of the track until it was completely out of my sight. I don’t know why I didn’t hop on that train. Maybe it wasn’t the right time.
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