Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

The sound of a far-off train…

late at night, no doubt a freight train coming into Daejeon. I hear the sound of the ancient locomotive growing louder and louder as it and the cars it is pulling rumbles through town.

There’s familiarity in the discordant rumble of the diesel locomotive pulling its weight in freight, which reminds me of another place, another time, another lifetime. For a moment, with eyes closed and memories unlocked, I could have been sitting at the kitchen table in my grandparent’s home east of LaSalle with the windows open late one summer evening listening to the far-off sound of a Rock Island Line freight train moving through the night; through the sleepy Midwestern towns along its path.

It’s funny what you suddenly remember and recall when you are so far away from your home and everything that you used to be.

Got an email the other day from one of my old friends from high school Bob Patelli. Haven’t heard from him in years and haven’t seen him since 2001; the last time I saw him before that was in 1990 right before I left for Korea. Funny, I was just thinking about him the other day. It was thirty years ago when we ran into each other during the Oglesby Celebration Days. I was home on leave from the Air Force. After I got out of the Air Force in May 1980 we hung out for awhile and then I went back to college and didn’t see him until 1990.

The years adding up and going by so fast.

“Can you believe we are going to be 50 next year?” Bob writes.

A half-century. The first half of my life. Act I. Part I.

Looking in the mirror in the morning and seeing an older you. There are more lines, creases, and wrinkles than there were a year ago. I cut my hair short and everyone tells me that I look young for my age. Go figure.

Sitting at my desk, a cup of coffee and gazing out the window. I am happy that I can see some mountains in the distance. It is something to focus upon.

It’s another Sunday. Another Sunday in Daejeon. Another Sunday in Korea.

How many more Sundays will be spent like this? How many more Sundays will I be sitting at this same desk and gazing out the window and feeling the way that I do today?

I think about a year ago…two years ago…three years ago. Where I have been, where I have come from and how I ended up here.

At school I hardly see anyone. Most of the time it is just passing a teacher on the street and saying hello or bumping into someone in the hallway. Sometimes I can go a week or longer without seeing any other teachers and this at a school where there are over fifty foreign teachers. I teach a class and then leave. Come back a few hours later or the next day and teach again. It’s a lonely way to make a living.

Got an email from Paul Collin yesterday. He talked a little about Carbondale and SIU. Something else that seems like a million miles away; far, far away in another lifetime. Paul banging on the wall at Freeman Hall. Paul pushing Miles in a shopping cart for my first student film. Paul and I finding out that John Lennon had been shot.

The nights are getting cooler. Soon the leaves will change into their vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows.

I wonder how many people read my blog and for those who do, why hardly anyone leaves me any comments. Who are my readers? I wonder if I make a difference in anyone’s life?

Today I will go to the market and then spend the day watching movies.

I hear another train rumbling into town. I wish I could be on a train headed somewhere, anywhere.

1 Comment

  1. Hey Anna!

    Thanks for the comments again and for visiting the old blog.

    Can you believe that it is coming up on a year that we first found each other. Kind of hard to believe how fast time flies by.

    Mata Kondo Na!

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