Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"...and the Devil is a Railroad Car."

I spent the majority of this past weekend on a train - approximately two out of the past three days. The brief time not spent en route was spent cramming in as much friend-and-family time as possible in LA. Total count? About 30 hours, 30 relatives, and 15 friends. Thank you to everyone who made time to see me. I appreciated every second.

Nicole and I tried to sleep most of the round-trip. It's hard not to when 12 of the 16 hours in transit fell between dusk and dawn. But Amtrak seats are only a bit more comfortable than airplane seats, and not very conducive to restful slumber. So I read a little, stared blankly into the darkness, and sometimes went to the lounge to sip coffee see who else wasn't sleeping. Besides, I don't think my reading Catcher in the Rye aloud to Nicole was much appreciated by the giggly church volunteer behind us or the elderly Mennonite couple across from her. Bits like, "...and his soul's in Heaven and all that crap," could not have been warmly received.

There seemed to be an inordinate number of Jesus fans on the rails in general. That Mennonite couple was only the first of three couples I saw during my round trip, and on the way back yesterday I suddenly found myself locked in conversation between a preacher and a hard place - the hard place being a former farmer from Burlington, Iowa.

He was good company, though, in between feeding his pop addiction and pointing out livestock and buildings as we trekked across the sparsely populated snowy mesas between Flagstaff and Albuquerque. He also consented to be a guinea pig for my new blogging idea (to be revealed soon). Nicole even found a hilarious pamphlet of Christian propaganda entitled "The Atheist Test". Apparently, the Big Bang theory doesn't hold up to scrutiny when applied to the origins of soda cans. This is an actual graphic from the booklet.

They insisted I'm a believer, whether or not I knew it. This isn't the first time I've heard such things, but it makes me wonder if they say that to all the 20-somethings, hoping it will win them over to the church with trust and goodwill. Are they just spiritual confidence men? Yesterday I almost believed them, today I have more doubts. Of course, yesterday I was sleep-deprived, and today I'm better rested. Maybe this is what Saint Anthony, Buddha, and all their ascetic company mean when they say physical comfort distracts from what is truly important. Whatever that is.

By the way, have you ever seen Los Angeles' Union Station lit up at night? It's an elegant and stunning sight, as well as a dangerous one, considering it will make people loathe to leave, as it did me.

1 comment:

Shnickie said...

Lovely blog. It captured our railroad journeys quite well, and actually made me believe they were a little more exciting than I remember them being.

Thanks for more interesting memories!

(Whether they're true to life or not, is entirely irrelevant. It's a writer's job to make the real world just a little bit more interesting, right?)