Thursday, July 10th
Tracie, Best Roommate Ever (BRE) dropped me off at Union Station. The last time I’d been to Union Station was five years ago when I went to investigate how I could escape the city without having to pay for my car. I mean, without having to pay an arm and a leg for a plane ticket home. I actually had no idea how one would go about getting a train ticket then. This must have been before I had internet at my apartment because it didn’t occur to me to actually go on line and figure it out. I briefly stopped in the other day on my adventure around the city. The main Metro hub is downtown out of the other side of Union Station. The wooden high beamed ceilings and leather boothed chairs reminded me of how I’d seen train stations portrayed in films like Harry Potter and shows like Law and Order. You know I was instantly impressed- I love it when art and life are similar.
I asked the person in charge of assigning seats to place me in an ocean facing seat. Sometimes I have this way of being that is completely unintentional, but completely gives off the air that I am relying on the kindness of strangers. Is that coquettishness? I don’t know, because I don’t do it intentionally. Sometimes I don’t even like when it happens and become aware of changing it immediately. But sometimes I like the response it elicits from men. Sometimes, I really dig the male attention. I can’t help it. I think it’s the eye contact.
ANYWAY… I boarded around 9:45am. I spent the interim time chatting with Denise about the state of black leadership in our country and challenging her to help me/our staff come up with a way to meet that challenge and to make credible, service leaders out of our students. We had been talking about the recent controversy about Rev. Jesse Jackson’s comments about Barack Obama, which made us both laugh hysterically (hitting a little close to home, Reverend?) and sparked in me an urgency/desperation to create a reserve of leaders who are speaking out and about the black community being that the “old guard” will soon not be enough (on the ground that they will be dead sooner or later).
The morning trip was pretty uneventful. I’d packed two packs of goodies, each containing: 2 bananas; 1 cored, sliced, and chopped granny smith apple; 1 granola bar; 1 small container of peanut butter. I also packed two books, 5 dvds, 1 blanket, 1 bag of toiletries, 1 pair of converse, and 1 shrug. My seat mate, Jacque, and I didn’t really strike up a conversation until the evening. The train has a dining car, and because I’m traveling solo I was placed at a table with a family of 3. Strangers are interesting, and I swear this event, and the menu, aided in my decision to only have one meal a day in the dining car- so that I may reduce my exposure to the awkwardness of adults.
So, I’m seated at this table with a British Grandmother, a blonde 13 year old boy and a father. I am seated, and I immediately introduce myself (“Hi, I’m Candace”) to which they just keep talking. As If a stranger hadn’t just sat down at their table. So, at this point I become really interested in the menu and the passing scenery. The only person who spoke to me the entire lunch period…the kid. Seriously. The kid. What the fuck? He was a seriously awkward little kid at that. He’s really into trains, and he told me about where they’d lived and what they were doing, and how he felt about the places they’d lived. It wasn’t like rambling. He had pretty halting speech, and it was obvious that he was being pretty guarded in his speech. It felt like he was really trying to hold up their end of the conversation and avoid any kind of awkward silence, which I appreciated in that the adults really made no effort to enter into conversation. Even when I mentioned that I teach, he was the one who had questions about that. It was pretty clear that I wasn’t a child, or a college student, but an adult on a trip, and still he was the only one who engaged me in conversation. Grandmother would respond to his questions of her, Dad would respond to comments he made, both mentioned how much more beneficial the British system of uniforms and discipline suited education. Neither spoke directly to me. Oddest shit ever.
I didn’t even eat dinner in the dining car. After lunch I went back and talked with Jacque for a while. She told me great stories about growing up on a farm in Minnesota, her children, her ex husbands, her current husbands, books she’d read, the internet company for which she “works”- I think its Quixtar, which is the new Amway, because she gave me a Nutrilite supplement (blueberry antioxidants capsule which was dissolved in a bottle of water and was quite tasty) and Nutrilite has been featured in those Quixtar/Amway commercials on TV. I talked to her about how worried I was about future generations and their complete lack of reading, my journey in strengthening my Christian faith, the dogs my family now has (my parents will be adopting a second one as soon as I get into town), and different life concerns (experiencing, valuing, and enjoying life). I bought a cheese plate and a Snickers bar from the snack bar and enjoyed those for dinner. Much better tasting, and a lot less awkward then eating with strangers.
Pictures to come.