AMTRAK RESIDENCY, DAY 9
I didn't write today. At all. I mean, I'm writing this blog post, but I didn't write a single word of my novel, and by the end of the day a nagging anxiety has started getting under my skin. "What if I will lose the sense of the story?" "What if I won't be able to pick it up where I stopped?" "What if...?" There are a million of those questions.
Since morning my daughter whisked me away to see places and eat things and see more places and eat more things, and talk, and laugh, and indulge in doing absolutely nothing. I was fretting all day about not being able to fully relax and enjoy the time off. It wasn't until the evening that it hit me. I'll get back on the train and I'll get back into the groove. It's okay. The world will not end. This book was born on the train, and so it will continue being written on the train. Even typing this out made me feel better. Whew.
As to the day.
I was fed a breakfast of a super healthy smoothie with berries and nuts and driven to the beach, where I stepped into the ocean water, thinking all the while about how a week ago I was passing snowy plains and mountains in Montana and North Dakota. I seem to have touched all types of weather on this trip, from the rain in Seattle to the cold in Chicago to the hot wind in Texas and now to the sun and warmth in California. When you travel by plane, you don't get to see or feel any of it. By car you don't usually travel fast or far enough to span so many climactic zones. But by train—you get to speed through all of them and step out at stations and feel it. When we stopped in Palm Springs, I thought we landed on another planet. It was eerie. And today, touching hot sand with my bare feet felt bizarre. It couldn't be. Jacquelyn from Chicago just let me know that it snowed there, and here I am on the beach. It boggles my mind.
After the beach we went walking around the Balboa Island, marveling at vacation houses and boats and more boats and flowers and frozen bananas (I ate my first one today), and sand castles, and throughout this whole time I held in my head the place where I stopped writing my book. Like a movie still, on pause. The train, curled and waiting. The snow. The ballet dancers probing the snow with their shoes. This image would pop into my head and nag me, like a movie that needs to be finished.
In the evening we went out to eat ice cream with my daughter's friends, and got to talking about books. I was blown away at how well-read these kids were. We proceeded talking into the night about topics such as white privilege, religion, politics, sexism, feminism, rape culture, philosophy, and art, and it was only because I said I was tired that we stopped. I was fascinated. The energy, the eagerness to contribute to the good in life was boiling in them, and it left me smiling. I told them to do what they wanted, now, without waiting for "someday" like I did, to make beautiful things even if no one cares, to give love, and I felt renewed. Usually conversations with people drain me. But this one...this was something different. I love young people, I love them so much. They don't have the constrains of our generation, they are open to anything, and they believe they can do anything, and that is wonderful.
So ended my day. Tomorrow I'm being dragged to LA to do more sight seeing (and eating), and then at 10pm I'm getting back on the train heading for Chicago, 4 days and 3 nights of writing, and reading, and staring out the window (of course).