I am first in line at Penn Station, Gate 14W, heading to New Orleans, Louisiana. Although the place looks like what I imagined it–a couple notches down from the New York Stock Exchange floor–I lucked out and stood right next to the gate, by the only working industrial fan. Here, the gate numbers are not revealed ahead of time. Waiting passengers stand in front of the departure board until the “Now Boarding” sign blinks. Only then will the gate number appear. It’s a great technique to prevent enormous and winding lines, but there is an increased chance of injury, as people madly rush to their assigned gate.
I cannot recall if I had a neighbor, although I’m sure of it. I sleep through Philadelphia and Baltimore, and the train switches from electric to diesel. We cannot use bathrooms during the break, so it was a good thing that I have been limiting my intake of food.
In Manassas, Virginia, I buy a sandwich and potato chips. If I decide to go on another trip, I will be sure to budget enough for actual meals, which start at $15.
In Lynchburg, a white man with Aztec patterns on his blue button up and a Texan tie sits next to me. He smells of beer and then later, when it was time to sleep, he smelled of cinnamon and a thousand herbs.
At night, the halfmoon allows intermittent glimpses of landscape. The moon disappears through the trees, blinks, and returns.
I was surprised by the rolling hills of ivy and evergreen. I had not expected such lushness through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I finish my syllabi so that I can mail my books back to St. Louis when I arrive in NOLA. In Tuscaloosa, AL, the lunch attendant asks about my tattoos. I get a teriyaki bowl, which makes everyone near me salivate and inquire what it was I was eating.
I see “smut” and “krang” written as graffiti in Picayune, Mississippi. I wonder about the culture here.
The Crescent Line passes through bayous and crosses through Lake Pontchartrain. The sun, hours away from setting, made the water appear metallic.