I spent roughly 70 hours of my Spring Break on a train traveling from Boston to San Francisco. The following entries detail my experiences. For the first entry, click here.
April 12, 2014
We boarded the train in Boston and so far it’s been relaxing. The streams and dilapidated ruins of crumbling Northeast towns slowly burrow into my memory.
I caught a glimpse of the train as we curved around a bend. For a moment, I saw the vessel carrying us forward. In life, we tell ourselves we know what’s leading us, what’s driving us, but, like passengers on a moving train, we have a vague, elusive of what’s pushing us forward.
As soon as I reached for my camera, we crossed the bend and the train was obscured. The train ride has been like that, brief glimpses of beauty and then onward, rushing through winter-famished trees and grey hills.
The Northeast is remarkably uniform, but at least there’s been some sunlight. The light warms and awakens a land ravaged by a brutal winter. My mind has slowly drifted from the stress and rigor back in Hartford.
We stalled for an hour and a half in Albany, NY. One more viewing of the ramshackle underbelly of a decaying upstate NY city. I can’t imagine how life would have changed if my Dad had taken the job he was offered in Schenectady, NY back in middle school. The brick and shattered glass, the monolithic decay would wear on you.
Now that the day is over, the sun is eclipsed by consuming darkness. I’m left with my thoughts and the dark, vast expanse of a sprawling land. Darkness envelops all like a deep lake only occasionally interrupted by the kindred light of a slow-moving houseboat.
I met a man working the dining car counter. He was in his second week of training. A dust-colored man of around thirty traded his job at the bank for a life toiling on the rails. The man had never set foot on an Amtrak. A desperate stab at a new life. And then this beautiful song arrived, courtesy of Pandora, and this year, this long train ride began to make sense.
“Longer I Run” Peter Bradley Adams
I miss the life that I left behind
But when I hear the sound of the blackbirds cry
I know I left in the nick of time
Well this road I’m on’s gonna turn to sand
And leave me lost in a far off land
So let me ride the wind tip I don’t look back
Forget the life that I almost had
If I wander till I die
May I know who’s hand I’m in
If my home I’ll never find
And let me live again
The longer I run
Then the less that I find
Sellin my soul for a nickel and dime
Tell my brother please not to look for me
I ain’t the man that I used to be
But if my savior comes could you let him know
I’ve gone away for to save my soul