Crash and I are riding Amtrak up to Vermont to spend a few days housesitting for friends (just down the road from his favorite ski hill and a few miles away from Math Man's Aunt Venerable). It's a long drive in sometimes dicey weather, flights are expensive, so the train is a gift. Crash worked on a paper about Freud (?!) and is now refining his world conquering strategies playing Civ III on a laptop while simultaneously watching Scrubs on his new iPod nano (coincidently inscribed: Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum europe vincendarum1.) I can watch over his shoulder as tiny legionnaires battle for territory or build emplacements. It reminds me of the Robin Williams' flick Night in the Museum.
I love looking out the window on long train trips, and often wish for my camera (though good pictures would require getting out and washing my window pane, and as Crash is fond of saying, "That's not happening!"). It turns your perspective around. Instead of the fronts of stores twinkling with lights for the holiday, you see their plain concrete block backs, dumpsters and heaps of brown cardboard boxes -- all lit by utilitarian floods. I momentarily wonder what it's like to live or work so close to the tracks that you could reach out your window and touch the passing trains. And just what happened to the United Pattern Company, now a forlorn brick shell by the side of the tracks? We roll by a rack of gleaming white shrink wrapped boats just a mile away from a trio of rusting car hulks.
Who rides the local trains? From the ads on station walls it's definitely not the people living in those apartments against the tracks: Betteridge - serious jewelers, visit us in Greenwich, Palm Beach and Vail; NY Times bestselling author Joel Osteen "Become a Better You"; Flat Out to Hong Kong.
1Sometimes I get this urge to conquer large parts of Europe.