sonder (n.)

The lounge car in this train is eerily empty and silent, considering it’s not even 10:30 in the evening.  There’s one man gazing out the window at the other end, somebody else bent over their laptop, and I think someone’s asleep, sprawled out over a few chairs.

We’re about halfway between LA and Vegas, though I think we’ll be veering harder to the east soon, towards Flagstaff.  Little desert towns glimmer like galaxies on the horizon, distant and just as alien.  Every so often we run parallel to the highway for awhile, keeping pace with the ant-like trail of cars.

Trains really encompass the idea of sonder, one of those new words invented to fill a lexical void: “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as complex and vivid as your own”.  Within the train itself, it’s poignant — all of these people, many alone like me, on a train in the California desert on a Tuesday night.  I wonder where they’re going, why they’re going — or if any, like me, are just going.  I rarely speak to them.

But then outside, you know, every single car has someone driving it, a real person with a destination, a bed waiting for them; every single light was put there by someone, every building flashing by is someone’s home, someone’s work; every nebula in the distance is a hometown, and I’ll never even know its name.

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