I've been here a total of four days and I think I finally recovered from that 29 hour train ride sometime this afternoon. You know how when you were little and spent the day at an amusement park riding all the rides, and the whole rest of the night your head still felt a little swimmy as though you were still riding the Tilt-A-Whirl? Imagine that times a thousand. When I first stepped off the train in Louisiana I nearly fell over because I'd forgotten how to walk on a surface that wasn't speeding forward while wobbling to and fro in a dogged attempt to toss me around.
Also, I'd lost all sensation in my legs from the knees down.
The ride itself was something of a sensory deprivation experiment. After a few hours the big tube you're sitting in becomes your reality. There is no world, just the scenery speeding past the window. The train becomes your neighborhood and the people around you your slightly annoying, quirky neighbors. I had no cellular reception for long stretches of time. I had no one to hang out with but myself. Every now and then, for a change of scenery, I'd walk the equivalent of a moving city block to the dining car where I found a surprisingly decent cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll. I give the microwaved cheeseburgers 3 soggy stars. Strangely yummy in that "this doesn't taste like actual food" kind of way.
When I had reception, boredom bred marathon text and photo messages to Mom and Levi who were both treated to photographic evidence of my slow decay from perfectly mascaraed and excited to raccoon eyed and in desperate need of a hairbrush (I was totally about to raid the luggage car for my Crest Spinbrush, too!). I also sent pictures of interesting trees, the Washington Monument, some random stream and what I'm pretty sure was the site where those two hillpeople made the fat Yankee squeal like a piggy (That movie wasn't a documentary, um, right?).
In Alabama I saw a place where you can get your hair cut and have your truck detailed in the same place, but we were going too fast for me to get a picture of it.
Though the seats were roomy and comfy, I still wound up sleeping in positions a sideshow contortionist would find impressive, waking up every two hours or so for that blessed stop long enough to take a cigarette break. I'd doze off with some idea of where I was and wake up with no clue. Beyond Maryland everything started to look the same: green and alive. We don't know from lush anything in Jersey unless you're talking about that one guy who lives at the busstop with his case of Bud Lite and pack of Lucky Strikes. (That guy's been there since I was 9!)
Speaking of the differences between New Jersey and the South, I had my first "Damn Yankee!" moment while waiting to purchace my umpteenth cup of coffee and cinnamon roll. See, the last time I came to visit Levi I bought myself a University of New Orleans hoodie that's so comfy it's since become somewhat of a security blanket (I haven't been able to wear it since I arrived here on the surface of the sun, but we'll get to that some other time.) So I'm standing there waiting for my coffee when this man comments on my hoodie.
"You from New Orleans?" He asks.
"Oh, but you go to school there?"
"No, my boyfriend does... I'm from New Jersey."
Well, at least that's what I think I said. However, judging from the gentleman's sudden change in expression I think what actually came out of my mouth was I come from a place where we twist the heads off of kittens for fun! I mean, not only did he screw a crazy face, but he actually pulled his wife closer to his hip as though I may infect them both with New Jersey! Look, man, it's a state not Pig Flu.
I briefly cinsidered barking at them as they walked away, but I didn't want to get put off the train in.... In.... Where the Hell am I?!?!