Moving Musings

Columns | Mirjam Zimmermann | June 2009

Dear Diary,

After two years in student housing in central Vienna and a rather loud construction site in front of my window, I decided to move back home to our family home in Linz. As I don’t own a car, it meant taking all my belongings by train.

This alone would have been hard enough. But I also had a problem with being late: I left the flat only thirty minutes before the train was supposed to leave.

So there I was, suitcase in the one hand, a big box with my coffee machine in the other, and a back-pack flapping behind. The Straßenbahn arrived straight away – so far so good -- but it was (of course!) one of the old ones, high up off the street with another three steps on up into the car.

First I tried to squeeze myself and all my belongings in at the same time, but with the box, I didn’t fit through the narrow space between door and handrail! So I changed my tactic, first putting my coffee machine in front of the electric eye so that the door wouldn’t close and then hauled my suitcase up on the other side of the handrail, bruising my elbow on it at the same time.

Once the suitcase was up, I pulled the box up behind me. Two older ladies nearby looked on with interest, than huddled together pointing at me and my luggage shaking their heads in disbelief. I shrugged, sheepishly. A businessman standing nearby even looked up from his newspaper with disdain. Nobody had offered to help. I willed the door to close and at last the Straßenbahn started on again. I could feel my face burning.

When we finally arrived at Westbahnhof, I was very late for my train. I hurried off to my platform at the far end of the station, the box with the coffee machine banging against my shins. The suitcase was too heavy to be dragged at the speed I needed to go, so it kept tipping dangerously from one pair of wheels to the other as I half galloped, half limped along the concourse.

Everyone was looking at me, but stepped out of my way. Thus I faced an obstacle course: a broken escalator, a flight of stairs, a bunch of high school students running around like headless chickens; and a closed glass door too clean to see. Bathed in sweat, I reached the train just as the conductor was climbing on board. I heaved my coffee machine, and then the back-pack into the car, dragging the bag over the gap, before losing my balance and falling in a heap. Fortunately the conductor was kind and helped me pull the suitcase into the train, just as it began pulling away.

One thing was clear: I should get rid of a lot of my books – and get a car!

Since then, the weather has gotten warmer, and I’ve started to spend more time at the ice-cream place at Schwedenplatz. I can never make up my mind: Fruit or chocolate? Small or large?  It seems to become harder each time. Standing in line, I realize that I am not the only one; nobody seems to be able to make up their minds.

Every day, we have to make decisions – some are easier, like the choice of ice cream. But some are a bit more complicated: What do I want to study? Where do I want to live? How could I ever afford a car? And if we can’t make up our minds about the little things, how will we ever be able to decide the big ones?

I chose my ice-cream randomly that day. Do we take our important decisions randomly as well? Do I really need a car?

Other articles from this issue