On the Train
It is 3:30 in the morning. I am in the last car connected to this Amtrak headed north on the West Coast of the US. I started in Los Angeles at 10:10am yesterday and arrive in Seattle just after . According to my iPhone map we are currently almost to Shasta Lake in Northern California and the person in the seat in front of me snores like a combination of all of my exes. You think I would be used to it; I am not equipped with the extra pillow I have had, laying in bed next to those men. I have nothing fluffy to flop atop my head and it is warm.... so warm and sticky. The article I had read containing tips for traveling by train apparently lied. Either I am one hot blooded human or the trains at night are not as chilly as described. Worried for my belonging's safety and because I wanted something to cuddle, I retrieved my pack from the deck below. It was too fat to stow on the rack above my head so for the first 17 hours of the trip it was hanging out with other delinquent bags at one of the lower level coach entrances. Now, it is in seat 47, my designated seat, and I, in seat 48, am draped over it as if it were my bestie retriever and it was just another day on the couch. I am crunched into a wanna be doughnut shape praying for at least an hour of sleep before this side of the earth is sunny side up and the other passengers are yearning for eggs. After a good nights rest complete with deep sleep and snoring, I would be craving eggs too. But that won't be the case. There is no rest for the wicked and for a princess like me with a pea of train tracks, I can't help but stare out the window and wonder if the stars will ever return to us. At times I ask myself if this loco is even moving; every so often the ride is so smooth, it is difficult to determine if it actually has forward velocity. That is until we speed pass a crossing with red lights that bounce and reflect off of the few panes of glass in here not shielded with curtains. Or we careen, curved, passed a hill or over a bridge and you can hear this baby scream with the tracks singing their "I built America" anthem. I am loving every single moment of this so how can I be expected to sleep? This isn't just some train ride for me. This is the first leg of my 45 day adventure and I haven't traveled by locomotive at a long distance since I was a child. This is epic and I am thinking of every possible way to never forget it. Even if my cleavage is sweaty and my pits smell like the beef jerky I had for lunch, why would I complain? How? The person in front of me can snore all night long and as long as I can feel my body tilt with each swerve that these cars take, I will be a happy rider.
Trying to find sleep on this steel rocket and from behind this goofy smile doesn't even take into account the incredible day and people I met today. How do I even begin? Surely it would be with Cheyenne, my first real friend on this trek. Almost 17 years old, lover of women and sweet as hell, Cheyenne stole my heart fast.
She photographs like a well seasoned model, appreciates people for who and what they are and can likely roll a joint 1000x better than me. That last past is only a guess as I never saw her in action. Plus, she just gets me. I wasn't with her an hour and she was already calling me a klutz. Consider me transparent.
Before we boarded at LAX, I spied the beautiful Alicia and her baby...little did I know that her 4 year old son and I would end up spending a lot of time together.
Which included me shooting him with the SLR as if he were runner up for model awards with Cheyenne and holding him my arms as if they were a seat for his little farty butt, so he could stare out the back window and watch the tracks appear from under our precious caboose and disappear into the distance. While he and I watched kale and hot peppers dance away to the horizon, momma Alicia was back at her seat breast feeding the beautiful 2 week old River. Great name for a little girl, especially out here.
Then there was all the time spent with these girls, including Cheyenne, down at the lounge car. Our dungeon. We ended up taking over the few booths, exchanging chit chat and getting to know where each boarded, are getting off, going to and coming from. Josh joined our posse and listened intently and possibly skeptically as we spoke of God. Although I think he is a new soldier and even received a welcoming hug from Chandra.
We shared miniature life stories of who, how and why and each all "nodded" in an invisible yet genuine understanding of each other's circumstances, never granting pity, rather just gave a listening ear. They participated in the research for my book(s) and we all watched as the ocean, the trees and the whole world whirled by beyond the western facing windows.
The observation deck seemed a little more upper echelon than that of our dope feminist-style dungeon, but there was certainly a lot to look at: in and outside of the train. There were all types of amazing humans peppered throughout the cars. And, honestly, no matter where I went inside this train, I felt as though I belong, as long as I wore a big smile and accepting eyes. It felt easy, natural... I can tell I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
In the dungeon we all became fast friends and everyone was welcome. Just as I suspected it would happen. It was a renewal of my faith in the human race, a baptism back into society... Today was my introduction to the world outside my bubble and it was quite magnificent!
It's hot, my jeans are still on and sleep deprivation is starting to give me a headache... Oh, and apparently I am hungry,....sweet!! So I am signing off for now and can't wait to share more soon. Seattle is in the headlight and I am craving fish, so I am going to try to dream of swimming. Happy Labor Day all y'all lovers out there... Take a load off today and do something you have never done before in your life. I promise, it will be worth it!