The long moment of disorientated openness comes to an end. It was like a shock, like a struggle for balance, in which no movement forward, backward or sideways played a role. The people stopped where they were and they were the same. There were hardly any moving trains anymore, in front of whose windows the other world was passing by and becoming unrecognizable. The trains had stopped, the doors had opened and we stood together in no man's land.
Now the trains are starting again in my surroundings. The people hurry to get on board in time. Relieved, dutifully or in fear. Or they are still hesitating, hoping for a last moment of farewell. Farewell to what?
It was a shared moment, in which the public and the private coincided, as if the moving colors of a kaleidoscope suddenly added up to white for a moment. Or, as if one suddenly and unexpectedly stepped out of a storm into the calm in the eye of the hurricane. It was always clear that there would be no lingering here. I think that for many people this place was void because of that, or it didn't even show up for them. For others it was like looking back into a forbidden paradise.
Well, it was a mixture of all of those things. A strange dream and nightmare that we now shake off and forget. We look for our place in our moving train again and hope that it is still free. And if not, we have to fight. Have to call the conductor, show the reservation, insist on its validity, ask for a new seat, if possible not much worse than before. Or at least in the on-board restaurant, even if it's expensive. Or, if need be, hidden away somewhere for a while so as not to fly completely off the train. If need be.
The other trains will again be just a distant hiss, streaks outside our windows. And then: nothing at all. Then it will no longer be a train that starts up again, but our reality that has awakened again. It may be different, but it will be the same, an inescapable reality.
I am an artist, and in my moving train I am allowed to keep my gaze fixed on this startling spectacle of an epochal tide change.
Stefan Budian, Mainz, 9 May 2020