Written late Tuesday, December 17
Tuesday dawns over Washington, DC with grey skies and hints of pink. Sleep? What sleep? I often do not sleep well when I travel. All my routines are off and it's hard to find the comfort I find in my own bed. The tiny roomette turns out to be more spacious than we first noticed when hubby climbs up into the top bunk and finds a nice storage space for some of our bags. He says goodnight, I turn out the light, and he's snoring two minutes later. Darn him. I put on a meditation podcast. It's nice and I am feeling tired (it is 1:30 am) but the podcast ends, and I can't get comfortable. Too hot. Too cold. Blankets too tight. Untuck everything. Move the bag to another location so I can stretch out fully. Listen to Edgar Meyer play the Bach cello concertos. Listen to the train whistle. Rock side to side as we rush around the curves. Right side. Left side. Flat on my back. Listen to another meditation podcast. Peek out the window as tiny towns roll past. Listen to my husband snore. Finally, sometime around 4:30 or 5 am, I do doze off, only to be wide awake a little after 6 and a little over an hour from DC. I watch the sky gradually lighten, listen to Aaron Copeland and the trainman knocks on the door to make sure we are awake to get off the train.
Damn! It is COLD here. I can see my breath as we trudge down the platform towards the station. I have not yet given in to the temptation of the wintercoat in my bag. In front of me, a lady tumbles backwards down the up escalator. With my hands full, I can do nothing but watch as station employees rush to stop the escalator and help her up. I trudge on past to the elevator and hold the door as my spouse catches up with me.
Upstairs, the mass of commuters rush from place to place, intent on their destinstion, clutching their Starbucks and commuter mugs, yapping on their ever-present phones, and navigating the complex routes through the station maze. We find the Amtrak Acela lounge, stow our bags and go off in search of breakfast. McDonald's aquired, we eat in luxurious slowness, talking, reading, looking around. Outside the window, I see a place where homeless people sleep next to the building. A man asks for a dollar, and I give it to him because my heart hurts to even contemplete someone sleeping outside on the freezing concrete and begging for food and money from strangers in the nation's capitol.
The hours pass slowly despite internet access and free coffee. The televisions are tuned to two 24 hour news networks who rehash and recycle the same stories, tweaking a detail here and there and trotting out a new passel of talking heads to endlessly debate whatever has captured the miniscule attention of the station. I give in to my winter coat because the lounge is FREEZING, and once I get warm and semi-comfortable, I fall asleep on the couch, having a nice little nap. Hubby wakes me, and we head downstairs to the multi-ethnic food court for dinner, and then, all too soon, we are trudging back out in the cold to board the next leg of our train journey: the Capitol Limited to Chicago.
If possible, today's roomette is smaller than yesterday's, but we manage to cram ourselves and our stuff inside, where we read and look out the window until darkness arrives, far too early, and then we nap until dinner at 6:30. Dinner is lovely (better than last night) and we eat across from a mom and daughter on their way to Indiana for Christmas. After a delicious chocolate mousse parfait (for me) and not-delicious baklava left over from lunch for hubby, we hang downstairs in the cafe for a bit. (and I write.)