Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On a Train, Waiting in Vain

Random notes from my journal today…..

Everyday city confusion, more questions than answers, more information than one person could digest in a day, a lifetime…..

On a quest for material to use to make my fiction writing enjoyable and popular, I comb the streets of Salt Lake City in an attempt to further understand the complexities of this diverse city; a Crossroads of the West.

A Train, Waiting in Vain

The third cup of coffee is always potentially dangerous, a vain attempt to compromise the body for the desires and hunger of the mind.

I’m on Spring Break and I wander the streets of Salt Lake City, wondering what the hell am I doing here? My friends of the city are at work or at play in the mountains, I search the streets alone, take notes of the landmarks, hoping that this material will be useful for a writing project; one that may or may not come to life.

The train took me here crossing the Colorado border past Grand Junction into the lonely desert of sage, the tumbleweeds and red rock, past the bricked buildings of Mormon towns that have seen better days, broken down, bricks missing, windows of cracked glass. Abandoned cars along side the rail road tracks make one long to hear the story of how the car ended up there, so I fantasize how it all went down….

The train sways, with travelers that have both seen better days, and others who have their best days ahead. But we all have the day that is in front of us.

I am the lonely stranger, usually too shy to speak to my neighbors, but this train ride is different. Just as one adapts quickly to the style of walking necessary on the moving train, we can think of things to say to start conversation.

I sat down in a seat in front of a girl with a metal prosthetic leg, ironic I think to myself because I have just met a climber-friend, Chad Jukes, an Iraq Veteran, who also has a prosthetic leg and lives in Salt Lake City.

I settle in for the ride, and let the desert and the train tell its story. I feel happy to discover the train, and have thoughts of Kerouac and taking a voyage far west. But I am on a mission….

Eventually I ask the girl behind me a question that I don’t really need the answer to just to talk. Why is it such a hard bridge for me to cross to speak to someone I don’t know? I have so many wonderful friendships that all began as two strangers speaking. Her name is Sydney, she is a climber, and had just returned from climbing in Ouray with Chad and many others. Synchronicity and some unspoken force seem to be at hand in this train ride.

I sneak Colorado beers on board, and probably have one too many. Eventually the expanse of the desert leads to the sprawl of Salt Lake City; lights of the city and falling snow are the landscape. I walk around sure to grab onto the backs of seats as the train sways, an old gray haired couple shares a red blanket with checkered black stripes, the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I sit down as a man, obviously in pain takes his seat in front of me. He asks an employee of the train for some Motrin, I offer up some Ibuprofen, and he accepts gratefully. He’s just been in a truck that has flipped; he’s got some broken ribs and is returning home to Los Angeles. His eyes tell me that though in pain, he’s glad to be alive. As I eavesdrop on his phone conversation, he’s got a woman at home who will be glad to see him upon arrival in California.

I’ll never see him again, yet he’ll stay with me forever.

My lonely day that followed digging Salt Lake City is nearing a close, on the heels of night, the time I prefer most in cities. The computer in the library I’m writing from tells me I only have a few minutes, the buzz and focus of the coffee will be wearing off, its time to enter the world of friends after wandering the city alone. Time to listen to stories firsthand over a beer and dinner, rather than making up stories looking at things from afar, time to flow with the time of life, on a planet flying through space, in a world that provokes infinite thought and possibilities…..



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