Long before I had moved to Sweden, or met Wife, and long before there was Son and even longer for Daughter, I sat on a train. It was a red train, a commuter train, so you know it was a long time ago because it was when the trains were red, and the seats were blue, before the red-and-white and the green-and-blue-and-white trains, and before the platform at the Helsinki train station had got its roof.
As I waited for the train to stop, before I walked out to the warm August night and past the Forum mall in downtown Helsinki, and before I bumped into an old friend, an event that made me feel welcome in Helsinki, my new but old hometown, I sat on the H train as it was approaching the end of the line, and listened to music on my Walkman.
This was before I had got my first real job, and before I had graduated from the university, it was even before I had even met my college roommate. It was before I had let my hair grow real long, before I had tried to learn to play the harmonica even for the first time, and it was before I realized that in January it’s much nicer to drive a car to a hockey practice than to wait for a bus outside the Helsinki main post office.
That was before I graduated from the university and got my first job, and flew to London. It was before I got back from London and got fired from my first job. It was before I had bought the pair of jeans that got then so torn that Grandma had to rip them apart and sew them back together, and put an R-shaped patch over my knee. It was before I moved out of Grandma’s attic, before I moved back to my childhood apartment, before I moved to Stockholm.
Since that moment on the train, I have packed everything up and moved to another place ten times. I’ve gained weight and lost weight and gained some again, and I’ve made some friends, and lost some, and then made some new friends again.
But on that late August afternoon I didn’t know any of that. I was sitting on the H train, looking out the window over the park and the national theater, and the people walking up and down the platform catching or hopping off trains, and I was listening to Toto on my Walkman.
That was before they broke up, before I saw them in Gothenburg while driving around the Nordics, and before I almost missed the show because I was confused by the woman at the hotel reception who pronounced the name of the band as “2-2”.
I was listening to Toto’s “Fahrenheit”, and the only song on the tape that I liked, “I’ll Be Over You”, and just as I was getting ready to get off the train, but before actually getting up, I heard Steve Lukather sing the chorus, and for the first time, I really heard what he was singing:
As soon as forever is through
I’ll be over you
“Anticipating”? What a great word, I thought, then got up, and got off the train, rewound the song back to the beginning, and walked down the platform, singing the song, quietly but out loud – “antiiiiiciiiipaatiiiing” – then headed over towards the Forum mall.