Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Once again I’ve spent the past two days trying to whittle my worldly possessions down to 50 pounds and fit them all into the giant suitcase. I have a one way ticket to Denver, where I’ll be staying with Tim and the family until I find a place of my own to settle into. It’s an 18 hour train ride, but it was only 50 bucks and the views through the mountain passes are amazing. There’s an observation car, a dining car and a snack bar car, so I’m planning to enjoy the ride and finish some editing on my latest manuscript.
As is usually the case, now that I’m leaving I feel that my time here has been too short. I didn’t do all of the things that I wanted to, but the things I did do I’ll never forget. The long list of ambitious goals I originally had didn’t quite come to fruition. But I did conquer that mountain. And the time I spent with friends and family I will never regret.
Of course my train was late. I arrived at the Amtrak terminal in Salt Lake (actually it’s little more than a small shed with seats for waiting) at 12:00 a.m. And finally boarded the train at 6:15 a.m. There were only myself and two others in the station all night long, and luckily when we finally boarded the train, there weren’t many passengers and I wasn’t not required to share a seat with anyone else. The accommodations on the train are more spacious than I remember,with a plenty of room for me to pull up the footrest on both seats, recline the backs of them and curl up and read and sleep.
The quiet hum of the engines and the soft sway of the train as we wind through the mountain passes makes it impossible not to doze off regularly. It’s funny to watch the heads in the seats I front of me, and see that after about 30 minutes of sitting upright, inevitably the heads fall back against the seat, or slump forward on the chest. Surprisingly nobody in my car snores, or at least I haven’t heard anyone. Of course I could be the offending snorer in the car, but wouldn’t know it of course because I would be asleep.
I enjoyed a nice lunch in the dining car. The tables are covered with white table clothes, and I was seated next to an elderly gentlemen, probably close to 70. We talked about his son’s “allergy” to alcohol, and how the man was returning from a visit with him son, helping him out after he had a “sip” and passed out and broke his arm. Seated across from us was an older woman, probably close to 80, who made polite chit chat as she enjoyed her small salad and soup, and tucked a package of Blue Cheese salad dressing into the pocket of her flowered jacket. Next to her sat a jovial woman who got on the train in Salt Lake City, and is headed past Chicago. It’s her first time on the train, and I helped orient her to the policies and procedures on the Amtrak. There are, after all, certain tricks to make your ride with Amtrak more enjoyable.
Number one rule: Play Possum—when the train stops to pick up other passengers, it’s imperative to stretch out all of your belongings across your two seats, as well as curl up using both spaces, and if possible, bury yourself under your blanket and feign sleep. Or put in your headphones and close your eyes. New passengers are reluctant to wake a sleeping rider, and will almost always pass on asking to be seat mates.
Number two rule: Survey carefully—Don’t strike up a conversation with just anyone. Sit and listen to those around you before you interact. The person you speak with may very well spend the full 18 hours wanting to chat, and insisting that you look at yet another deer out in the wilderness as the train passes by.
Number three rule: Make friends with the bar car fellow—The snack/bar car guy is your friend. He not only delivers beer, but also coffee, plastic ware, and if you’re really nice, he’ll let you play cards with him, deliver interesting conversation, and generally help pass the time in a pleasant manner.

After nearly a 20 hour train ride I have arrived in the Mile High City, and settled into my new deluxe accommodations in the home of my brother Tim and his family, Mona, Mitch (14) and Ashley (4). I’ve spent the first week orienting myself to the community, which has been a challenge because unlike Salt Lake, where the streets are numbered according to a grid, streets here only consist of names. As a newbie, it’s hard to tell where I’m going based on street names alone. I’ve been assured that eventually I will catch on, but until then I spend a lot of time asking where things are. I went for a bike ride the other day, in search of Walgreens, where I had dropped off my prescription for insulin. I was pretty confident I could find it again, and set out full of hope and excitement that my first excursion would be successful.
Apparently the air here in the Mile High City is thinner than I’m accustomed to, and halfway through my ride I was forced to stop and push the bicycle up a moderately steep hill. I had finally admitted defeat and dismounted my bike, when I was hit by a violent wave of nausea, forcing me to make a spectacle of myself as I emptied the contents of my stomach on the side of the bike path. Embarrasses, exhausted, and several miles from home, I got back on my bike and suffered all the way back to where I had just come from. I made my way to the couch and lapsed into a semi-coma for the rest of the afternoon. When Tim came home and I told him about my horrible experience, he told me that its not uncommon for newbies to go through an adjustment period with the altitude, and he assured me that many a hikers/bikers/joggers got sick when they first arrived and exerted themselves. Well, that was all I needed to excuse myself from exercising for a few days and allow myself to lounge on the couch watching horrible reality tv shows.
But, I can only use that excuse so long, and have now pulled myself off the couch and am prepared to dive into searching for freelance jobs and working on my manuscripts. There are dozens of publications here in Denver, ranging from small community newspapers to full-color glossy magazines detailing the use and effects of marijuana, which is legal here if used for medicinal purposes. Newspaper ads hock dispensaries, claiming they have people on site who can give you a prescription for whatever ails you and can be treated with dope. Some of the even offer free brownies, edibles, or ice cream when you fill your first prescription with them. That might explain why everyone here seems so laid back…

February 24, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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