A Tourist at Home- Autumn in Arad

 

I recently read a piece about how our experience of time changes as we age– namely, we feel that time passes faster than when we were younger. Which, since I just started getting irked by the prospect of Christmas shopping when I know for a fact that yesterday was a balmy day in May, must be true.

However, as nothing is simply black and white (except the stripes of one of my favourite teams, though when away they also play in a shade of questionable yellow), this weekend I experienced a strange phenomenon. After a couple of days of utter laziness, I decided that it was time for the compulsory autumn walk by the Mureș, which in turn means that I needed to leave my neighbourhood, which can be done only by crossing the railways connecting Arad to the rest of the country. And for this there are several ways: either you cross the bridge, which is the longest in my case, either you cross at the barrier, which allows you to securely assess whether a train or a maneuvering locomotive is headed your way, or you choose a random point of passage and hope for the best.

This last option is of course the shortest as well, since you can choose the crossing point to match your destination, but is also the most perilous. As such, it was the absolute no-no of my childhood, served with varying horror stories as a side dish. The absolute terror was that of perhaps encountering a stationary freight train (a frequent sight at the time, less so these days), deciding to clamber over it, and then getting stuck on a carriage as the train would suddenly accelerate and carry you away into unknown lands populated by orcs, poltergeists and the Romanian secret police. The myriad possibilities of where this could lead were thus far worse than just being suddenly and irretrievably sown into half on the spot.

Needless to say, I always went for the no-no option (my mother started suspecting this at some point, but gave up on trying to improve me, which is her stance to this day), basically because I was always in a hurry. In retrospect, I really have no idea why, it was only very rarely that I needed to actually be somewhere on time- school was tentative too, as we always left well in advance to be able to converge in the yard and discuss Important Matters before class, so being late was out of the question when leaving home. Of course, we were often late, because we Converged for too long, but that was another matter altogether.

The only reason for this hurry, then, must be that I felt that time was running out, but that would contradict the fact that when you’re young, you feel like you have more time at your disposal. These days I should feel I have less, yet I always take one of the ‘scenic’ routes and walk rather slowly even if I have an appointment. Perhaps being older makes you more contemplative, perhaps it’s the fact that I do not wrestle with my day to day tasks in Arad anymore, with the rare exception of a doctor’s visit or renewing a document, and thus I am both a local and a tourist, and sometimes things seem very normal and understandable and as they’ve always been, and sometimes I find something very strange, or much changed, like how the letters forming the name of my high school’s founder on her statue have withered away and no one cared to fix them, but someone plastered a deadmau5 stencil under it, and that looks fine and fresh as a daisy.

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