The Danish word for "the train" is "toget (pronounced toy-et)" and I take the train a lot these days... it has become my creative thought place. In California we live in our cars, I felt like my life was passing me by in that traffic... it was endless, unpredictable at times and definitely infuriating. Now I just sit on this red train and think as I pass the world. Sometimes it's perfectly silent, sometimes it's bustling and sometimes I get on and there's just one lone chatterbox on their phone filling the silence with talk. The entire scenery of Denmark sits just beyond the train windows and as the seasons spin by I can watch them in contemplation from my seat covered in a fabric that seems to come right out of the Portland airport.
I love this train. Even when it's slow or late or packed shoulder to shoulder, I am thankful for its existence. I do not miss my car... even after spending the long, cold winter here, cars are still the ultimate life sucker. I have no desire to even own a car ever again. There's a peace on the train I can't explain... it's not always the best kind of peace but it's better than the stress and insanity of sitting in a car, frustrated all the time. Praying that no one decides to take a swift left into your passenger door also taking your life.
Some mornings the doors open and in pours a flood of children all guided by just two or three of their teachers. They clamor into a car, racing for a seat, yelling across the madness for a friend or two to come and sit with them. The teachers attempting to yell above that, telling the students to quickly find a space and make room for each other, everyone should be trying to create a seat. Teachers then count each head and take a seat of their own, joining in on conversations about the weekend or the newest video game.
On days when the students are traveling during rush hour they get on and just sit wherever they can, all wearing their brightly colored vests and happily holding hands in two straight lines like in the story of Madeline. For me, as a parent, I feel so secure in my child’s safety as she travels with her friends from one end of the city to the other. No permission slips or charter bus fees required; just a notice the day before, a packed lunch and off she goes to explore the world in total freedom and fearlessness.
The day I went to get my Rejeskort was the day I finally felt like I really lived here... before that day I would fill my pockets with billets (train tickets), sometimes forgetting which one was the one for the trip I was making... completely infuriating the DSB officer when inevitably they came around to check. Me digging frantically through my pockets for the right piece of paper to show them, all eyes on me rolling in disgust "oh come on you tourist." Now I almost enjoy flashing my blue and white card that I keep tidy in a red DSB card holder; what I feel is a signal to the others that I live here and I'm not just another annoying tourist.
The train is a great place to watch the Danes… to see them interact in their real, daily lives. On the train we are all coming and going with errands to run, people to meet and dinners to cook. It's crazy how predictable things get on the train... if it's after 4pm on a Friday, the dress code changes from business to casual or club attire, and most of the inhabitants are heading out for a fun evening to relax after the long week… to share a train beer and be with those they love most. If it's between 6:30-8am on a Monday, it's packed with those going to work. All prepared to show their valid ticket to the DSB officer, ready to lunge en-masse at the opening doors when we get to Nørreport Station and pretending to watch the rotation of ads or news on the train's built-in TVs.
The train is what unites a lot of us, it keeps us on the same level. We share the space with the wealthy, the poor, the elderly, the young... we are all the same when we ride the train and, for me, it’s one of the best parts about living in Denmark.