Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slow ride

[Actually written 20 December]
The train trip lasted a little over 21 hours, pulling into Emmeryville at 6:20 PM pacific time. Sleep was a problem. At first glance, the seats appeared to be perfect for the trip: lots of leg room, reclining, leg supports. As it turns out, sleep was almost impossible. With all that room, there was nothing to scrunch up against to hold the body while sleeping. Some relief came the next day when I moved to an older car where the seats were closer together and I was able to do a bit of scrunching.

It was easy to see who the regular train travelers are. They are the ones who dress like shit, spread a thick layer of support material about themselves, and get into some serious nesting. The first passenger I saw had this to an art. He was dressed in team colors for some NFL franchise, had an open cooler with drinks and ice at his feet, and was seated as close as possible to the restroom. Pure redneck nirvana. More civilized and innocent travelers, such as myself, were more reserved and orderly, taking great care to minimize our profiles and fade into the background.

It seems that sewage treatment plants and trailer parks grow alongside rail tracks, like moss grows along a gutter or ditch. Near population centers, there were many homes near the tracks, mostly working class. Alas, none of the residents of these homes was kind enough to go into a room facing the tracks, turn on the lights, open the curtains, then have wild sex at just the right time for me to spy them for a scant few seconds.

While gazing at the homes passing by, and at the back yards, vacant lots, and parks, I had a strong feeling of "Home." For each of these humble homes, I got the impression of a place that was safe and valued. Talking with Lisa few weeks ago, she spoke of having a home, a place that wasn't just space to park the self, but an actual home - a haven that was totally yours and safe. I got this same feeling when looking at these homes. I also realized that I have never felt this way about any place that I have lived as an adult. Where I live now, with my mother, I know that I am always open to the intrusions of others, and that my privacy and safety are incomplete. When I was living with Kathleen, I never was able to make any of that space totally my own. I always had to make way for Kathleen, for her possessions and desires, and for her way of arranging and running the house. Also, we never came to a point where all things melded from Mine and Yours into Ours. Having a place totally my own, where I could say, "This is my home", is something I have never had.

Then there were the industrial facilities and warehouses. Away from population, the tracks often veered to wilderness. Where the freeway, which was never too far away, was always keeping a tenuous touch on humanity, the rails often kept well alone, going through fertile wilderness and barren wasteland alike. It was pretty cool.

So most of Thursday, the 18th, was taken up in looking out at the world or trying to catch bits of sleep. As we approached the end of the line, it was clear we would be late. I began to worry that I would miss my connection to Oakland, but reasoned that the connecting buses were tied to the arrival of the train and would all leave with their charges. Again, it was battle with the worry side of my mind. I relaxed, and sure enough made the connection. I also made the first of the two buses I needed to get to Melinda's place. But the second bus - the last of the day for route 13 - never arrived. So I walked. I walked about two miles, but it felt longer. This was when I knew I was WAY over packed. I think I am sending some stuff back home in the mail. When I finally arrived, I said hello to the cats, unpacked, nestled into bed and tried to sleep.

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