Amtrak across Arizona.

A few weeks ago I was hurtling across the Saguaro Desert on a train trip. Part of me feels like I still haven’t arrived back.

The bumpy, rattling movement of the train (somehow soothing). The curious other passengers (eclectic cross-section of folks travel by train). America going by outside the viewing car (desert, cacti, power plant, river, airplane graveyard, more cacti). We must have passed through a dozen different tiny towns, all with the same 3 things — bar, junkyard, train stop.

We got our Colombian waiter in the dining car to wear my headdress costume. We listened to our luggage attendant talk about how much she hates LA traffic (always end up talking about that no matter where I am in the world). We saw a spectacular sunset in Tucson. We watched an electrical lightning storm during dinner. We laughed til we couldn’t breathe.

But my favorite part, the best part, was this man I filmed from afar during the sunset. While everyone else was scrambling to take photos of the pink sherbet sky, he just gazed out the window, stoic as a sculpture, obscuring everyone’s photos of the sunset, not caring in the slightest. His energy was heavy, lonely. But maybe I’m projecting that, and he was perfectly happy, enjoying the minutely disruptive act of messing up everyone’s photo.

I like how in the video he’s observing nature, yet is separated from it. Perhaps that’s just a thing I think I should say. Seems like something you’d read at a museum.

Actually, the best part was hearing the train whistle all the time. It’s the best sound in the world. Full of romance, full of longing. The 9 hour trip was worth it just for that.


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