Train Traveling Blues


“Did they check your ticket on the train into Rome?” She asked me as we headed into the maw of the Metro.

“No,” I said, “as a matter of fact, they did not and I kept it.”

I like to keep ticket stubs and museum passes, stamps, post cards, paper bits and pieces that I glue into my little journals.  I look back and have an instant souvenir, a sense memory of where I was.

I was also thinking that I may act the stupid American and just pretend to use it as my ticket back.

Stupid is right.

I got a ticket.

I got a ticket for not having a ticket.

I got a 50 Euro fine.

Cue tears.

I ain’t got that kind of money honey.


“You know, I just want to do the correct thing, the sober thing,” I said to my friend, although I was actively weighing the pros and cons.

We boarded the Metro and I let the thought stew in my brain.

She got off at her stop and I continued onto mine.

I shifted my bags in front of me, the pick pocket action in Rome is no joke.  Then I got off at my stop.  I closed my eyes and asked for direction and I heard, “pay”.

Then I thought of “think, think, think,” and I heard “pay” a second time.

Then a third.


I got the picture.

No, apparently there was more, I suddenly got the image of a policeman in my head checking tickets on the train and how that felt handing over the invalid ticket.

Did I listen to my gut?


I made a fear based decision.

I got onto the platform and it was so busy and crazy and people coming and going and I let myself get overwhelmed.  I saw a Interpol and I asked him which way the train was to the airport.  He pointed out to me platform 34.  I walked over.  The crowds started to thin and there it was, a ticket seller.  I looked at it.  I thought about it.  I pulled out my ticket and held it in my hand.  I pretended to be nonchalant.  I thought about the groceries I could buy with the 14 Euro.  I did not go buy a new ticket.

When the train pulled in I boarded.

No ticket taker.

I relaxed, watched the scenery go by, pulled out my notebook and began to write my morning pages.

“Ticket please,” I was startled up from writing my affirmations in my notebook, no, hahahaha, I was actually writing a gratitude list.

Even fucking better.

I could feel my heart beat and my skin blushed and I dug around in my purse and handed the woman my ticket.

She shook her head.

She pointed out that the ticket was for going to Rome not leaving from Rome.

I apologized and said I could I pay for the ticket now.


64 Euro.

I did not catch that.

I handed her 15 Euro, the last bit I had in my wallet, and waited for the 1 Euro change.

She gestured to the seat next to me and sat down and said not enough, I handed her my card, and she began charging it.

I saw the 64 Euro charge come up on the screen.

“64?” I asked flabbergast.

“Yes, 14 for the ticket and 50 for the fine,” she plugged in numbers into the little machine.

“I don’t have it, I’m sorry, I said, I don’t have that much in my account,” tears of abject horror fell down my face.

So much for not listening to my gut.

I do not need to learn this again.

She smacked the machine around, it wasn’t getting a signal, and I am not certain she understood exactly what I was saying about there not being the money in my acccount.

“Not working,” she said, “we go to station and run card there, you wait for me.”

“Yes,” I nodded abashed, ashamed, horrified, I turned toward the window and watched the high blue sky fly by stacked with soft cottony clouds and the green grass waving in the wind, the umbrella pines unfolding on the horizon and the bright graffiti that was scrawled on the walls of the station we had just passed.  I had a moment of panic, then thought, ok, what are they going to do?

Throw me in the pokey?

Kick me out of Italy?

There was nothing to do but man up and face what was about to happen.  I was not going to make a run for it.  I am too damn conspicuous as it is, and I would offer again to pay the ticket and if I needed to send money from the states when I get back, so be it.  I settled against the chair and apologized to myself and to the Universe for not listening and for allowing myself to be in fear instead of faith.

When we got to the station I sat and waited for her to return.

She gestured to me to follow and she led me to a money machine.  I explained once again that I did not have the money in my account.  I have money in the account, $36 American, but not 50 Euro.  I showed her my balance and I started to cry again and I apologized.  She looked at me with some mixture of pity and compassion, of which I will not question whether there was contempt in there whatsoever, patted my arm and gestured to me to follow her.

I followed her to the ticket vendor, she had a conversation in rapid Italian with the woman behind the glass, a ticket was hand written out, I was asked for 14 Euro, I handed over the 15 Euro I had in my wallet, said “grazi” and took my train ticket.  I walked away chastised and small and fervent with desire to not travel like this again.

Neither to be in fear of not having enough, I had it, I had it in spades, with one Euro to spare.

I got to the airport, found the terminal, checked into my flight, printed off the boarding pass and went and sat in the lounge eating a bag of pistachio’s and drinking a bottle of Pellegrino I bought at the concessions stand.  I found my seat, said good bye to Rome, and vowed, should I ever come back, I mean I did toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain, that I would come back fiscally responsible.

I realize with more than a little ego smashing and some chagrin, that I do not like living this close to the bone.

I just don’t.

I think I have hit some sort of financial bottom, one that I have played out again and again and again.

I want to be a successful writer and I want to be able to travel again and I want a job.

I don’t care what job.

I just want to pay the bills, pay rent, not scrabble so much for the money.

Money does not equate happiness and I know this, but for some reason or another I continue, have continued for the last 8 years to really be on the low end of the money scale.  The one time I was making some decent dough I hated my job so much it was not worth staying at.

There has to be a happy medium.

I will be able to do what I want–write, photography, travel–and have some security.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

When I got home I received a phone call to come out and stay at a friends house while they are in the states–fully stocked fridge, huge tub, internet, Netflix, cable, large screen television, the whole she-bang.

I did not have to worry about groceries at all.

Plus, I have the house sitting to go to this weekend.

I am taken care of, even when I cannot see it.

So, no more fear based decisions, just faith.

I believe this will change and here’s to that happening.


In Paris.

And soon to be in the Bay.

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