The Nice Man on the Train
The train is intense but also good
I’m on an Amtrak train in something called a roomette. Don’t ever sign up for one of these things unless you’re traveling alone. For two people they are very small. Instead of looking out the window at the beautiful elk, you will instead spend most of your time trying to get out of your companion’s way so they can exit the roomette to go to the bathroom.
There is some difficulty with the disposal of the train’s main source of waste. A man shows up to fix this, he shakes his head helplessly while a woman cries out to him: “It smells awful!” Granted just one leg of our trip involved odors. The other one was ok odor-wise.
In the dining car we met a man who spoke about his partner who had died a few years ago. We passed dusty towns that had been semi-abandoned, some had beautiful old brick buildings three and four stories sitting alone high above the more or less emptiness. At the edge of town a stream raced alongside the train. The man said he’d found his partner late in life and for years, before their meeting, he had biked past the turn-off to her street but never gone down it. When they got together she told him she’d always felt his presence nearby and knew eventually their paths would cross. I said I was sorry she was gone and he smiled and said “No, no, it’s okay!” He said that he had just been so happy to have known her and he still learned things from her every day. The guy might sound like he was cheesy but he wasn’t. He was just a nice direct person who had used his pension to go to visit his mother in Detroit, stopping off in Chicago to hear music, and was now going home.
I woke up in the morning with dried flecks of blood on my cheeks due to the on and off nosebleed I’ve had for the last few days. I splashed my face with non-potable water in the tiny bathroom then buried it into a clean washcloth for a few seconds. I felt lucky.