7:30am 7/25/2013 Renfre 730 222 Passengers 79 Dead

I don't even know where to begin. I guess it started with my arrival in Europe. I'd like to think there are young kids that come from land locked rural towns. They eventually escape their surroundings via the train and travel far off to a big city like New York. From there they may take their first subway ride to get to the airport for their first plane ride. They may have a layover in Boston or someplace exciting to them. Then they make the grand voyage over the Atlantic to the United Kingdom. From there they take the cheapest route through the English Channel via train. Once in Europe proper they continue boarding these trains to and from. They grow used to the speed, convenience and become travelers in their own right. Then someday they return to their hometowns via slower, uglier trains to tell their story. There is a privilege in riding Europe's fleet of futuristic, high-speed trains. The unimaginable feat of going anywhere in no time. The beauty of high end stations and accompaniments. The scenery so far from blue mountains and amber grain. The honesty of it all. And then….

I believe the train derailed when I was at dinner. I was probably twirling my pasta around the fork. She was probably watching "Newsroom" or polishing her toenails. The people on the train were the shopkeepers of Seville who were shutting gates as we were arguing over where to eat. Maybe these were faces we'd seen in the streets. And now they were dead. I actually came back after dinner, showered, dressed for bed, fooled around online and slept with zero awareness. In the morning I awoke to several texts asking me was I okay. She was still sleep so I went in the bathroom to see what the fuss was about it. That is when I saw the video of that train corralling around the bend. There was so many things that went through my mind. I thought of the person I wrote about above. The person so enthralled with being free that they didn't feel anything. I thought of that pharmacy that stayed closed the entire time we were in Seville. I remembered the note on the door stating they were on vacation. I imagined the many faces I'd seen at Atocha waiting to board that very same train. I thought … it could have been us. 

So I sat on the toilet, with my phone in hand and I cried for nearly an hour. I sobbed like I had never sobbed before. I just couldn't believe that I was that close to death. I couldn't separate myself from those people I'd never met. I whole heartily felt that impact as if I were there. I'd put my trust in those trains. My innocence was in those trains. My happiness was in those trains. It hurt me so badly that I couldn't apologize to those who felt like me. I couldn't assure them. I couldn't tell them. I couldn't promise them. All I could think was they are dead and they will never know how to feel safe or sure or happy again. Many of them sleep at the turn. So many of them just trying to get somewhere. So many of them trying to meet with family and friends. Most of them on the way to a religious festival and everyone preparing for them. Someone cooking. Another making a spare bed. Someone buying chocolate. Another cleaning furiously. I'd locked eyes on one of these poor souls. I'd been in the same place as them. We'd passed each other by. And at this moment I couldn't even call anyone or tell anyone just how affected I really was. All I could do is text them that I was okay, in another country and wipe the tears off the screen. Meanwhile, she lay in bed occasionally snoring or sniffling blissfully unaware.

I was so upset by knowing that this had happened I left the room. I stood outside the door. I went downstairs. I sat for a while. I could not stop crying. I finally thought if I go to breakfast I can calm myself and maybe she'd join me. I cried in my coffee. I cried in my yogurt. Other patrons stared at me. I finally told them I'd leave and my friend should be down later. I composed myself on the elevator and when I entered the room she was awake. There was this surprise of me having went without her and a need to know if she could still go down. So I just blatantly asked her did she know about it. She did. She knew when I came in the door that night. She chose not to tell me. She allowed me to take a shower as people dove down the embankment to pull bodies. She allowed me to dress as people recovered open luggage. She allowed me to rest in bed as some took their final breaths. I was absolutely mortified that she knew. Frankly, I was disgusted. I didn't even explain how awful I'd felt earlier. How could she even begin to understand. Someone so angry about the littlest things but so cruel about the biggest ones. Her answer to everything was to go to the Vatican. 

No offense to the Vatican or anyones religion. I was far pressed to avoid religion in that moment. I never liked that strange connection to sacrifice and forgiveness. It always seemed like someones god interfered with their mission, bus trip, pilgrimage and now festival. I always wondered why those so willing - why take them? Why take those innocent ones around them. The children. The strong ones. The elderly. If you just need some warriors, soldiers and angels why not get them some other way. So for "good" reasons we broke families, killed aloof travelers, lost a few nuns. Why not get them in a better way? Why leave those who could care less? I never explained the correlation between closures in Seville, being in Atocha and us being on the exact same line just weeks before. There was no compassion for the incident let alone the loss and the possibilities. I had wept for us. I had wept for both of us. She went completely unfazed. It just didn't feel right to go somewhere else to evoke something that should have been automatic. I just never felt like religion could be promising. I never felt that it praised self-love. I never thought it was necessary to be a good person. I'd wanted to see it but not for this. This was no better time. This was the worst possible time. 

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