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Train Legs and Home

I’ve left the train, but the train has yet to leave me. I went to yoga less than a full day after I disembarked at Denver’s Union Station. I chatted with a woman on the Empire Builder and we both agreed that train yoga would be a great addition to the journey. We wanted to stretch out, get some exercise in the middle of the morning or the afternoon. We thought Amtrak could offer it in one of the old cars where they used to show movies. After attempting Half Moon this morning, I am no longer convinced it’s a good idea.

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Train blur. Leads to train legs.

If you’ve ever spent much time on a boat, then you know what it means to have “sea legs.”  We took a Mediterranean cruise on our honeymoon and I remember stumbling around Barcelona, grasping for balance among the Gaudis and the Picassos. I’m here to report that “train legs” are much the same. My balance is off. The train is still with me.

It’s with me in other ways, as well. I dreamed last night that I saw a woman enter the train with a young boy and later, when I asked about him, she told me she didn’t have a son. In my dream, I was convinced she’d abandoned the child in Wenatchee or Klamath Falls or Cut Bank. I tried to tell the conductor and the car attendant, but no one would believe me or maybe they didn’t care.

Even in my dreams, I am writing train stories.

It is strange to sleep in a bed that isn’t moving, that isn’t tossing and pitching me from side to side. It is strange to stretch my arms out in the shower without banging my elbow or jamming my finger. It is strange to look out the windows and see trees standing still. And it is strange to do yoga when my body seems determined to hang on to the motion of the train.

I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to travel on an Amtrak Residency. I may never spend so much time on the rails again, but I suspect I will consider the train a real option when I travel in the future. Sure, it’s slower than flying, but it is far more enjoyable. The seats are comfortable. The food is good. The coffee is abundant. You can stand up and walk around without getting the stink eye from some flight attendant pushing a cart. People who take trains aren’t in a big hurry and aren’t likely to push you down as they get off the train. The train staff is friendly, efficient, and welcoming.

But I am glad to be home, nonetheless—home with my husband and my dog and my fat cat, with my shelves full of books, and my kitchen stocked with good food. I’m happy to cook for myself, a pleasure I often miss when I travel. And I’m happy to be back to my normal routine in a city I love. Denver, you are spectacular.

Now if I can just get my legs steady, everything will be perfect.

Published in Amtrak Residency Writing

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