Sunday, March 3, 2013
The road less traveled by.
When my family decided to bury my mother's ashes in her hometown in Illinois, I didn't want to go. It was my hometown too, and I had already buried something else there: my past. My wayward, meandering, I-don't-want-anyone-to-know-this-about-me past. Stressful events in faraway places hold an additional stress for me -- flying, and the potential for turbulence, which leads to full-blown panic attacks that can last as long as the turbulence. A good friend who worked at Amtrak suggested I might enjoy a train trip to Chicago. That trip was a revelation: not only for the sunsets and the views and the sense that I was seeing the backyards of a million people--their flapping laundry, their fertile fig trees, their pets contained by frayed rope--but the people I met. Their amazing stories of what they were running from and to. And I had my story, too: the novelist who is going to her mother's funeral. This story in the New York Times paints a vivid picture about what it's like to travel by train. From a people perspective, nothing beats it. Nothing.