Adele was already singing the last few notes of “Take It All” when I decided to escape from the memories that were trying to pull me down further into the abyss and looked out of our window. The view that greeted me put a small smile on my face. I saw the familiar houses situated along the rail track, which could only mean one thing: we’re only a few minutes away from Hua Lamphong Railway Station.
I turned off my phone’s music player and I told The Actress to prepare her things because we’ll be alighting shortly. The lady who was seated across us was starting to arrange her luggage as well and putting all her trash in a single plastic bag. I was contemplating whether to go to the restroom or not, but then I saw Handsome Spectacled Dude going in that direction. Never mind. Braving through one great flood last night was enough.
I looked out of the window again and we were approaching our designated platform. As we were inching our way closer to the train station, my mind started to drift to a not-so distant past. It was April 2012, I was at this very same place―Hua Lamphong Railway Station―and my sister and I were waiting for the other passengers to board the train so we could begin our journey to Nong Khai. I slipped out of our coach momentarily with my camera in hand because I wanted to take pictures. In spite of the fact that it was a hot and humid summer night, I went around and captured the goings-on that evening at the train station.
A few minutes later and after checking out my camera roll and deciding that I was satisfied with the shots that I took, I started to trace my way back to our assigned coach. Before I reached our platform I saw this couple seated on a bench. The girl looked forlorn and close to tears, while her boyfriend was all brave smiles and was clearly trying to comfort her. He put his arms around her and he started to talk to his girlfriend, presumably assuring her that he will be back in her arms in no time. Upon seeing this, my brain screamed, “Teleserye!!!” Some of my body parts can be excessively callous at times.
I’m not usually thrilled whenever I go to train stations (that also includes bus stations and airports) because I might witness scenes like that one. Sometimes they annoy me because of how soap opera-ish they are, but most of the time, they just depress the hell out of me. These places remind you how difficult it truly is to let go and say goodbye to places, things and people; most especially people. They also reveal the sad, ugly and painful side of moving on that you think does not exist thanks to Taylor Swift’s Jedi Master-like skills. I was sure there was an obvious frown plastered on my face at that moment. I went behind that couple, pointed my camera at them and took their photo. I’m not sure why I did that.
That night as I was lying on my bed and distinctly feeling the movement of the train, and before I closed my eyes to go off to dreamland, I grabbed my camera, opened it and I stared at that photo one more time. I sighed. I hate ends; I hate goodbyes. It’s one of my biggest flaws, actually―I do not know how to let go. But when you really think about it, life is one big series of letting go and moving on. At the time I still haven’t fully comprehended that. Fast forward to three years later and a heart break that nearly destroyed me and changed me into a whole different person; I have a deeper understanding now that these things are just some of life’s “inevitables.” You can’t keep them from happening. You can’t keep holding on to them so tightly; you have to open your hand at some point. However, that fact doesn’t make ends and goodbyes easier to accept, unfortunately.
I was brought back from my reverie when the train engines finally stopped. I quickly strapped on to my backpack, stood up and joined the sea of people that was rushing to get out. I spared a glance at my wrist watch―it was almost lunch time. It was hot and humid, just like the last time I was here at Hua Lamphong Railway Station. My eyes darted around and not much has changed since I previously stepped foot on this place.
I saw The Actress from a distance and she was hastily heading towards the exit. I put my legs to work to catch up to her. I stopped momentarily to take a photo of the signage that says, “Bangkok,” so I could send it to my sister later and tell her that we arrived safely in Thailand. I was about start walking again when I noticed some of the people going in and out of the train station.
From one of the benches I saw a group of women, with their bags and boxes in tow, happily chatting while they were waiting to be ushered inside their assigned train. I also saw a family that, if I were to base it on the big smiles on their faces and their colorful ensembles, was itching to leave Bangkok to start their vacation. And I overheard a group of backpackers who were happily recounting some of their adventures and misadventures in Malaysia, and who can’t contain their excitement over the new experiences that were waiting for them in Thailand’s capital city. They seemed all unfazed of the things they were leaving behind, too energized, eager and thrilled at the thought of starting a new journey.
Goodbyes are indeed difficult. But most of the time, because of the sadness and pain that accompany them, we tend to forget that it’s just one side of a coin. The other side of that coin is just waiting for us to gather enough courage to flip it over. Goodbyes are like the last few words of a book’s chapter; they signify ends, but they also mean the beginning of a new one or maybe the start of a different story altogether. That’s something most of us forget when the door slams shut in front of our faces; we tend to overlook the other door that’s being opened for us. A door that will allow us to start over, begin a new story filled with new experiences, people and places, leave the hurts and disappointments of the past, and move forward with our journey that still has a long way to go before it reaches its final destination. And if I look at ends and goodbyes that way―that they’re also beginnings; they’re also the start of something new, moving forward isn’t so bad after all.
The Actress was already at the exit and motioned for me to hurry up. I adjusted my backpack’s straps, stared at my pair of blue shoes, smiled momentarily, and turned my attention back to the doors that were waiting for me to cross the threshold and start a new adventure. I looked back one last time and sped up my pace to catch up to my companion.
Yeah, it’s time to take those steps forward. It’s time to move on.