Tuesday, August 7, 2012

End of the Line

It's been several months since I last posted progress on the Western Maryland Western Lines layout, and simply put, there hasn't been much to post.

Sadly, I've reached a point in my life where I have to put the toys away, and re-think my overall approach to life.  In the last few months, my marriage of 27+ years has unraveled, mostly by my own efforts, but the details of that aren't important.

What is important is the realization that all of the time and effort that went into building the layout was spent at the expense of my family.  I had always prided myself that since I was a kid, I've always had something to run a train on.  I bought our house with an eye specifically on that grand attic room that held so many possibilities.  Mostly, it turns out, it became a place for me to hide from the grim reality that there were some major holes in my personal life.

I'm still very proud of the work that went into it, and all the recognition I've gained through my years of posting progress on the various internet forums, and my writings here and in print in N Scale Magazine.  In recent months, though, I was becoming more and more aware of the down side of having such a complex design.  Time spent on maintenance began to outstrip time spent enjoying the layout, parts of it that I really enjoyed building had become a bit dusty and tired, and it got to be harder to find the energy to commit to renewing things and putting right the things I knew were wrong.  Quite frankly, I was thinking seriously about giving up on it for some time, and seeking out something a little simpler and more satisfying.

There's a life metaphor in there somewhere.

As of this writing, the layout still stands, fully populated with numerous trains.  Thousands of dollars of rolling stock, locomotives, structures and details, all sitting dormant in a dark room in a house I no longer live in.  My son doesn't want me to remove it, at least not yet.  He doesn't show much interest in operating it anymore, but I suppose it gives him a reminder of the time he and I spent in there.  He's now 16, so he'll only be around for a short time longer.

Maybe there will be an opportunity to have the guys over one more time to run a few trains, but I have a feeling the next time the crew comes down to Cambridge, they will be wielding sawsalls and wire nippers; storage tubs and bubble wrap.

I don't know if I'll ever attempt to undertake such a fully operational model railroad again.  Sharing a small house with a roommate means it certainly won't be happening in the near future, and a desire to get out and live life more fully means that time for such an effort will be limited.  Fortunately I have several good friends who have been able to balance life with their layouts, so I'm sure I can always find time to grab a throttle and a handful of car cards.  I'll also be glad to lend a hand to install a few switch machines or some scenery.

But I need to streamline my own life, scale it back, and make sure that I'm working as hard at making my life, and the lives of those I love, as satisfying as my experience with the layout was.

So if anyone wants to own a chunk of the Western Maryland, let me know.  I could probably use the money.