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Train Travel

I just returned from Philadelphia tonight. This was the second train trip I had the opportunity to take in the past month. It’s been at least a dozen years since I’d last taken a train and I found that I still love the sensory pleasures it provides.

I crave the sight of train track graffiti art. The backyards of America are snapshots of the cities’ and towns’ underbellies, decaying and humanly messy. I love the textures of the row houses and the unnatural speed and the effortless travel which all gift me with this odd gratitude. The kaleidoscope of the landscape rolling by had my brain singing “Good morning America, how are you?” These City of New Orleans lyrics are an ode and a prayer.

Experiencing this with others is part of the journey’s experience. My fellow train travelers and I share the same bathroom where, by the smell, I discerned the train throws off the boys’ aim. Last trip, I sat next to a sweet kid who still had last night’s party oozing from his pores. And this time, a lady with a lovely British accent kindly agreed to my seating company. The only time we spoke was with the shared excitement of watching five parachutists descend from the sky into a field somewhere in Delaware.

People travel with baggage, both the real and the mental kinds. A toddler boy a seat back and to my left loudly screamed “Owie, owie, owie, Mommy” for the entire first hour of the ride. The Mom knew she was in a publicly viewed power battle. I had compassion for the woman. I’d been the frustrated Mom with no toys or techniques for distraction in my traveling trick bag. Attempting to control him, I heard slaps and hushing. He shrieked more and the frustration was tactile. Then I gladly jammed ear-buds into my ears.

My compassion turned right off when Stevie Wonder’s Superstition was cranked and poured into my head. I was removed from an intimate level of focus. My ride happily allowed me to write and watch and roll. And when I reached my stop, I had arrived. No need to park or drive or get lost. The station in Philly is an amazing vaulted building and still holds the awesome magic of days gone by when train travel was a luxury and an adventure to most. My awe was rekindled for this place I’d been only a month prior.

My pick up gal and I had not discussed whether it was the 29th or 30th street passenger pick up circle we’d meet in. As she’d left her phone at home, I sped across the lobby twice before I found her at the 29th street end. I was happy to have stretched my legs.

We spent two days catching up on an entire lifetime of chat. We retraced the woven path our lives had taken together and away from each other. I really enjoyed her town, neighborhood, and community. And we managed to imbibe two bottles of red and two bottles of white in two days. And run around her gorgeous springtime corner of the East Coast until I got cramps in my calves.

After a needed two day vacation from the woes of my recent existence, I happily returned home tonight. My train-adventuring-ease was accompanied by a glorious sun setting view of the world I was both hurtling above and tethered to. I wish everyone a gift of perspective as sensory as mine was this week.

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