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a past shoe, present anxiety & future return

by Elle K 8 months ago in bitcoin · updated 3 months ago

errors & luck

my stop, Westgarth train station

Focus on the exhale. One less thing to worry about. It's the result of an inhale. Why did I do that? A fragmented montage of the previous night's antics project through my minds eye like a trailer to a film. The thumb and middle fingers of my left hand press down on the temples of my head, in an attempt to make the replays cease. Focus on the exhale, it's the result of an inhale, I remind myself again. I read once that a tip to stop an anxiety attack is to name five things in your immediate environment. This tip has never helped me. What does work is when I focus on a specific sound like the boiling of a kettle - this has seen tremendous results in the past.

I forgot my phone and headphones due to these hangover 'dreads' so my anxiety doesn't have background music this evening, instead I have to tune into the tempo of the train running over the tracks, which I must say is just as much organically rhythmic as it is strangely meditative. I close my eyes to help calm the machine gun thoughts - it seems to work and they slow down with the train in motion, offering slight reprieve however once stationary, we're back on. Exhale. Jolting, high pitched beeping sounds warn the carriage doors are opening. This sound I'm used to but without headphones it seems louder than usual. I jump into quick introspection again. Why is this sound so triggering? Also how much money did I spend last night? Was I loud when I got home? I couldn't check my messages, did I drunk text anyone? Total anguish floods my body with this latest series of unanswered questions - a sensation I'm used to.

The beeping sounds off again as the doors close then I remember the trigger. High school. Running for the train. Sweating. Noting many peers and their various reactions. Some howling with laughter at the pain on my face trying for olympic gold. Others cheering me on, believing I could make it (a painful foreshadowing for adult life, might I add). Being knee deep in this memory, I recall the terrifying moment was actually the beeping stopping mid leap toward the train carriage. The doors close on my most forward foot, claiming one of my shoes. I push away from the train landing on the platform, shoeless, bag contents surprisingly not everywhere. Collective gasps from strangers somehow becoming the focal and loudest noise in the station to me.

My teenager melting in embarrassment, wanting, willing and wishing to dissolve from puddle into vapour. I feel like these moments are so unique to the teenage experience - it's as if they are a test to see if you'll let the memory rule you some fifteen years later. A test to see if you'll allow yourself to live in shame. I've always thought that if you can recall situations like this, holding the same humiliation levels felt then, it's generally an indication that there are many more in the bank and honey, I'm very rich considering all of my accounts.

I physically tremble at the thought of these revelations, in the not too busy, not too empty carriage. Thankfully there's not enough people about to see this shaking off of intrusive thoughts. People are always in their own worlds on public transport unless something happens, I remind myself. I look out the window to see if I missed my stop with all this thinking (which has been known to happen). Pathway lamps running parallel with the tracks are glowing just enough for me to recognise where we are. I'm nearing closer to my station so I have to be prepared for the exit by planning out my route as well as each steps rhythm, all to appear cool, collected and not anxious.

We go through some more percussive train track jazz and I take the colourful peripheral blur of the last graffiti piece on the long stretch of wooden fence as my cue to stand. Only a bit now until I'm home, the most soothing thought of the day. I eye off the best handle to hold then start my steps toward the exit before a swift brake from the driver brings the train to an abrupt stop. The harmonising sounds of startled passengers disrupt the carriages' cordial quiet. No one is hurt. Luckily my forethought assisted, as I steadied myself using the handle already in my grip and the one opposite it. I then slump into the nearest two seater awaiting the drivers update or for movement. I exhale with relief that I didn't fall to the floor and relax into the chair, laying my other hand on the empty seat next to me, when I feel something.

I pull my hand away and simultaneously turn my head to see what I felt; a box wrapped in brown paper, unsealed. I look in front of me to check if the potential owner was standing near however there wasn't anyone until the next set of doors. I pick up the box then turn around to see if anyone were to claim it now that I was handling it. Nothing. I check both sides of the box. Nothing. No name, note or contact phone number.

I've left belongings on trains before and have always got them back. Cabs though, never - which I always found interesting. 100 percent luck in one mode, absolutely no luck in another. I like how they offset each other because you can't have perfect runs in every facet of life, something always has to be off. When I find items I always hand them in. This presented a peculiar moral dilemma as there was no way for it to be traced back to the owner. The lights flicker on and off signalling the restart of the engine, the hum of operation returns and the train starts moving again at a snails pace.

I shake the contents then open the box. Inside it, there is a new pen, a USB stick and a small black notebook with an elastic enclosure which seemed untouched. The thought of fresh stationary always elated me. It was as if these had just been purchased at a newsagent on the way home from work. I stood up from the seat, put the package in my bag and disembarked.

On the walk home I started to wonder, was this a gift for someone? It's like the same vibrational frequency of curiosity I have when staying in hotels. Who has stayed in this room before? What was the dynamic? Was it an affair? Holidays? A person needing a break from the house they live in?

This package brought up similar vein questions. Who left it? At what station? Where did they get off? Where were they going? Were they going to deliver this to someone or were they going to work? Was their handbag or backpack too full with things they thought it'd get damaged? Are they now freaking out at a train station wondering how they are going to get it back? Did they leave their phone as well? Has that been taken? Did they leave the package because they felt it was of no use? Did someone feel a bad vibe from the package and decided to not touch it? Thoughts flip quickly one by one as if they were on a rolodex with every possibility of the genesis surrounding this box and the contents.

It's becoming exceedingly overwhelming the more I think about it. Fortunately I reach my house which puts an end to this investigation and questions start about what to eat for dinner. I eventually make a decision to cook myself as ordering food will require me checking my bank account and there's been enough mental peril for today.

My housemate welcomes me with a smile so I must of arrived home quietly from my late night out. I empty the box onto our dining table basket which has many miscellaneous items in it like bottle openers, numerous coloured lighters, broken pens, pieces of paper for notes or shopping lists and a few magazines. We talk about how this train package is the perfect addition to our collection, thinking nothing of it then nearly a year passes and it's time for me to head north and for my housemate to move south, back in with the parents due to COVID-19.

While it's saddening to have to fold and go back to the coup, I remind myself it'll be less stressful there than scraping the barrel all to live in this city where the current runs so fast you have to hold on tight to ensure it doesn't chew you up and spit you out. A tear hangs from my eye not wanting to leave my wonderful friends who became my other family, not wanting to leave the enchanting streets I could walk blindfolded through, not wanting to say goodbye to any of it. I'm very accustomed to things ending and have been aware that this was going to happen with the world being upside down.

In preparation for the changes, I've been obsessed with decluttering for most of the year as lock down forced me into months of valued introspection since there was no work. I made a declaration that if nothing has a purpose, it is not to be apart of my inventory of treasures and that home is where ever I am, it's not necessarily spacial. Many material things got the chop. Clothes I thought I would wear but never did, exes jumpers I held onto, as well as their letters, poems and photos, old festival, movie and concert tickets, journals from 10 years ago and abandoned canvases. I go through the table basket, easily throwing away things in it I recognise and know I have no use for. Laughing at the book I found on the train and all the mystery I created surrounding it and stowing it away in my suitcase, as well as the pen, both still seemingly untouched. Finally, I'm down to the last item in the basket, the USB stick.

I don't usually have a use for USB sticks so I hold the rubbish bag open with one hand and go to throw it in however something pulls me back. I decide to throw it in my computer to see if there were actually any clues as to who owned the book, pen and stick. Thinking it was empty and it'd be case closed, I realise there is actually something on it. Multibit.

A bitcoin wallet. I overheard some guys at a bar talking about how bitcoin was worth around 10K months ago but it's not something I ever really followed. Being subject to more disappointments in life, I stop my mind from thinking about the possibilities of what just one bitcoin could mean for me. I stop my mind from expecting there to be anything on there. I take a big inhale, collect myself and my thoughts, then exhale, closing my eyes tightly. I say aloud, OK, open my eyes then click open the wallet.

2 bit coin. I'm in a state of shock. I take a few minutes. My mind is racing with what I can do with potentially 20K. I'm in two minds. I'm hoping that it hasn't decreased to something like $100 and I'm also in complete gratitude for this moment. I google the current price.

The ball park figures are AUD52,187.19 x 2 = AUD104,374.38

I've only ever won maximum $10 on a scratch it. Maybe $25 on a slot machine a few times. This felt like winning a lottery on another planet. It was found, on a train and left alone for nearly a year, gathering digital and physical dust in a basket on a table in a house rented by two very poor waitresses, surviving on a diet of pasta, pot noodles, occasional fruit and cheap beer (or when the going got really tough, boxed wine).

It pays to be grateful, it pays to be honest, it pays to always check what you're about to throw out and it pays to be active in living life because you never know how quickly your fate can change. I think about the depression and anxiety that has been a result of a crazy life and how comical the universe is, in its essence because negative experiences always are balanced out by weird strokes of good luck. That's one of its rules. I suppose you just have to make sure you see every misfortune as an opportunity for fortune.

A shoe for a stick!


Elle K

curator based in Melbourne

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