*This piece has been originally written to mock a jerk from my hometown, me and my friends laugh about on a social network; he is one of those who brag about his “free spirit” and his travels.
April the First!
Yes, it is April the 1st, and exactly one year has passed since I jumped on the freight train that rumbled by my house, to explore the United States. The greatest of adventures!
The most important things in life, you do them suddenly, without planning.
I remember I was running alongside the tracks when the old Union Pacific train passed by me, whistling to warn me of the danger; it goes so slow, and is so long I had plenty of time to make the decision.
“Who knows where this train is heading, it probably goes west, following the old roads traveled by cowboys driving cattle, to deliver them to the most recently colonized areas, Dodge, and maybe then South, Oklahoma, or even Texas…” I stopped thinking, grabbed the bar of one of the last cars, it was open, I jumped up, then sat down. Like in the movies.
I did not have any money, I was sweating, I did not say anything at home, and I didn’t even have a cell phone; I should have been worried, who knows how long I’d be away. However, none of this happened, and for a moment I simply felt free from the bondages of everyday life, including that of technology, which forces us to talk about ourselves, and perform in a sort of circus of lies, a narcissistic minuet. No pictures! “What I will see is just for me!” I thought.
I breathed deeply the coal fumes, it was the smell of freedom and nature.
The Rocky Mountains that took so many Irish lives, maybe Denver, the Grand Canyon, all the way down to California, and, who knows, maybe in the distance, with the heat of the desert and the delusions of a brain made crunchy by dehydration, I could even imagine seeing El Dorado… I fantasized, to tell the truth, a bit cold because of the breeze on my wet shirt.
The train was only going to the central station of my town to be routed, however. I should have known by the fact that I live east of it. Acting without thinking has some specific risks.
Once it stopped, I barely had the time to jump off before the police stopped me using pepper spray and slamming me to the ground. “Freeze!”
“Fascists!” I said indignantly.
I didn’t even had time to scribble one of my usual thoughts, a phrase, between the smelly boards of the car, so imbued with freedom.
They took me to jail, where I remained for one day, coughing annoyingly between quite hostile vagrants and madmen; then they charged me with trespassing. My wife arrived the next day with the attorney and the papers for the divorce already signed.
I thought that these are the ways in which society tries to limit our free spirit, seeking to enslave and subject us to an obsessive lifestyle made of responsibilities and rules and planning.
I did not think even for a moment that I was just a jerk, as I was now called by everybody, from my family, to the tough policeman who beat the shit out of me under that westbound train.