AMTRAK RESIDENCY, DAY 8
Sun! Sky! Palms! Cactuses! Waking up to this made me jump out of bed and hit my head on the bed above. So don't get too excited when you're on the train.
I was wired all day, thrilled to finally arrive in LA and see my daughter. Adventures started at breakfast. I sat with Jud and Ruth who are both almost 70 years old, both have Parkinson's and have just met. During breakfast they told me how horrible it is to be afflicted with this disease when your brain feels perfectly fine but your body stops obeying you.
"You just freeze. You leg freezes and you fall." (Jud.)
"I don't wear a bra anymore because I can't take it off! The last time I wore it, I cut it off with scissors!" (Ruth.)
"My tongue mumbles up the words." (Jud.)
"My hands shake and I can't use my phone properly!" (Ruth.)
We had a fantastic conversation about the importance of doing things you want to do while your body obeys you. (You hear this? Write that book already!)
I did my writing surprisingly fast again, perhaps frightened by the prospect of getting old and frail, and then just as I got into reading Anna Karenina, the ground behind the window changed from red dirt to sand. We have arrived in Palm Springs. It was a short stop, perhaps 5 minutes total, but it looked so different, so alien, and so warm, that I couldn't resist to get out.
And that is where the adventure got apocalyptic. Or alien. Or something. There was a huge wind farm across the station (I did one little video and another little video). The rotating blades kicked up so much dust that it looked like white robots slashing through haze of some other planet. The sloping mountains in the background only added to the effect. And when we started moving again, I forgot all about Anna Karenina, staring out the window (my new favorite hobby) and contemplating new book ideas.
Then things got creepier. We have stopped at a depot, or at a shunting station (is there such a thing?) with endless rows of tracks and countless freight trains standing parked and—here comes the creepy part—several carriages moving on their own. They really did. They weren't rolling down the hill. They moved with the purpose of a thing that knows where it's going. I later found out from a train attendant that they were remote controlled. But the idea was planted in my head. I will write this into my book.
Finally, my daughter picked me up in Pomona (she couldn't wait to see me and LA meant another hour of waiting), and now I'm sitting on the couch and typing this blog post after having met her friends at a BBQ and having played beer pong (with water—yes, I'm boring) and barely keeping my eyes open.
Tomorrow she said we're going to the beach (so much for hoping to write another chapter), and the day after, Wednesday, I'm getting back on the train in LA to go to Chicago and then back to Seattle.
And you know what else? I'm happy to sleep in a big nice bed, but I miss the lull of the train, the coziness of my little roomette. There is something ethereal about it, something that makes you want to create.