I haven’t blogged since last year. Exactly this time last year. Back when I was blogging every trip, each one bringing new experiences and people, stories overflowing with words and memories that I wanted to (needed to) share.
I went on other trips this past year. To Denver and New Orleans and Tampa, Florida all in one trip, back to back adventures. I woke up looking at the swaying trees in Memphis, and the swamps outside New Orleans and saw beaches and power walked downtown Denver. Went on a spontaneous adventure with a Lyft driver into the mountains. Closing my eyes around the turns, wanting to look, yet not wanting to. I took trains and buses and fancy buses and strange shuttles that took me to connecting trains. Wandering through towns I didn’t know, cell phone service spotty, I could be anywhere.
Writing is like any other activity. When I practice it, I like it. When I write often, I crave it. Words spill out at night or early morning, or in a sentence fragment from a dream. I once wrote a play in college in spurts on the back of napkins and old receipts in my car at stoplights, the characters voices in my head ready to hit the page- and later the stage.
But when I pause for so long, the words are silent. Maybe it’s something about formalizing my blog (likely), publishing a blog on the Amtrak platform, feeling the pressure to “brand myself” or “post regularly” or think about pushing out my content or creative (something I do already for my day job- and love- feels daunting for my own work, writing, art.)
I want to write now. Want to share the feeling of doing a trip that I know so well. Of how there are less firsts, and more familiars.
All day I struggle with the internet connection, writing emails in bursts when enough bars appear, communicating with my creative team in short phone calls, texts and screen grabs. The train forces you to let go, to trust that the outside world is doing fine on its own. Forces you to detach from technology (at least parts of it) for periods of time. Forces you to let go of impatience. It will all get done when it gets done.
People are quieter on this trip. I ate breakfast alone until a married couple and their son joined me. He ate pancakes and put his feet in the air (and slightly on the table) and drew letters on the paper table cloth. In the observation car, I met a man named Eddie in a 3-piece suit, we watched the expanse of Texas, but didn’t have much to say. At 4:30 in the morning I was awakened by an older man showering and beginning his day, walking the aisles in his bathrobe. At dinner I sat with an elderly brother and sister and her beau, on an 8 day trip across the country to Seattle. When the food came, they paused, looked at each other, and joined hands to pray. For the first time in my life, with strangers, I joined hands and prayed along. Why not? I was grateful.
As I write this, I am drinking the first shot of whiskey, (ordered "on the rocks?" with a question mark in my voice) that I have ever ordered.
The darkness is rushing by me, flickers of light – far away cars or a solo trucker on a long quiet drive shine in the distance.
Hopefully, tomorrow, the words will come. There are many more stories to tell.