Listening to iPods on a Train in Sicily

Stef Puts a Toe In

Slinking along the north coast of Sicily on a train, my sister and I watch the landscape out the windows—blue water on one side and steep, scrub-covered cliffs on the other. In the seats behind us, two American teenage boys are doing their best to woo two mildly disinterested teenage girls, also American. I can only hear one of the boys speaking, his grownup voice booming through the half-empty train, right behind my head. He pretends to know about European history.

The station at Taormina wooshes past and I feel a pang of regret. It would be good so good to get off the train, to spend another day in the sun before shacking up with our relatives. Before days of my impossible, badly-accented Sicilian and host/guest protocol that we barely understand.

We’re half-asleep from our early-morning plane ride, from lulling woosh of the train, from the heady sense of not being anywhere yet. We listen to music, our ears stopped up, to forget where we are or always remember, one or the other. Nothing blocks out all the noise, though.

I ask my sister, “What are you listening to?”

“R. Kelly, ‘Ignition Remix.’ You?”

“’You Dropped the Bomb on Me.”

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