The days slip by surprisingly quickly, our Russian leg a cross-hatch of trains and funny little hostel-cum-home stays. The days on the train, although not exactly the long expanses of contemplative quiet time one would experience travelling alone, do allow for some stolen solo time. I find it mostly at night when the lights are out and my little cabin companions are being rocked to sleep by the movement of the train.
The choice of music takes time and thought, although of late I have found that almost anything will hit the mark. I prop myself up next to the window, ear buds nestled in my ears.
Whoever gets their voice becomes my companion for the evening as the snow and silver birch forests slip past under the stars. A stretch of time encased only in the music. Time shared with no one but the talent pumping through the thin wire from my iPad. Sometimes it takes me back to a time and place so vividly I experience a wash of who I was back then. The gorgeous Eddie Vedder rasp or Bono’s rousing anthems – soundtracks to so long ago yet welcomed back happily to the dark cabin rattling across Siberia.
It doesn’t always take me back – I don’t always want it to. A new soundtrack created for these quiet moments when everyone is here with me but as they sleep I am in my head. Not thinking, just listening. There’s nothing else, just the snow, the cold glass against my cheek and the music.
At the core of this trip is our unit of five, a shared experience the language of which we will share forever. We eat together, walk as a pack, constantly watch out for each other and generally sleep within a whisper of each other. We share almost everything. Stealing away to where no one can follow, however infrequently, gives us each moments that belong only to us.
I know that when I hear some of these tunes again back home, in my kitchen in Ocean Grove, I will be transported back to this quiet cabin with the northern lights spectacular in the night sky.