Boarding the train I am standing on the platform in Cincy Ohio next to a hispanic woman who speaks no English and I am sensitive enough to not want to insult her with my limited knowledge of the Spanish language. Her cart is overwhelmed and the look in her eye tells me she has never taken a train ride. I help her carry her luggage on the train and she gets settled. We nod to each other, a silent language, and walk to separate areas of the cars. They segregate your seating based on your destination, because at some point, some of the cars piggyback on to other trains.
I go to my seat and this dude, in the fullest extent of the description, dude looks at me and says’ “Excuse me but that is my seat.” I just silently look at him and smile and wait for an explanation, because clearly it is not. The woman who would have set next to me looks at me and he says “do you mind, I want to ride next to her”. I nod, move my stuff and see that his seat is empty, two seats are empty actually, and I am thinking I get the better deal. His hair is long and in a pony tail, greasy, his black t shirt has some name of a heavy metal band, tats on his arms, and his pants hang on him enough that when he stretches out I can see his but crack. Gross! He is cuddling and snuggling with the woman who I would have sat next to and she is cut from about the same cloth. Dirty blonde hair, unkept, baggy sweats and oversized hoodie and a blanket wrapped around her with a pillow for sleeping. They appear to be cozy..with each other…so I just make myself comfortable for the ride to Chicago town. The porter comes by and asks for our ticket and all I can think of is Tom Hanks in the Polar Express. It is cold enough I am kinda wishing the offer for a hot chocolate would bring in the dancing men pouring hot chocolate and tapping their way down the aisle. Instead, just the slow moving swaying of the train as it heads out of Cincinnati. I look out into the darkness and realize I am really leaving. That all the months of planning and dreaming…are coming to a head. I feel an enormous surge of peace and contentment at the same time I feel as if bits of my heart are breaking into pieces like a cookie gone stale after christmas. I don’t even realize it until I feel the tear fall onto my arm near the cold windown I am leaning against. It is a cold tear. I know my tears…I have cried enough of them that they get organized in my head and heart just like anything else. Cold tears mean deep sorrow. Deep deep deep sorrow from the deepest part of my heart and soul. Those don’t come out very often, but when they do…it’s means loss. Separation permanent separation. That is my train ride to Chicago. I am losing to gain. I am leaving and closing the door to a chapter of my life and facing west to another one. I try to sleep, I doze a bit, not much. I see the stadium in Indianapolis lit up with the SuperBowl insignia and it reminds me…life goes on.