All Aboard

Dear Amtrak*,

I was 11 and it was June 1983 and our family had round trip tickets on Amtrak from Tomah, Wisconsin to Seattle, Washington.

The train boarded at dusk in front of the old Tomah depot. My younger sister and I were giddy with excitement, an adventure ahead of us, a train ride on the Empire Builder headed out west.  Family and friends came to see us off, everyone caught up in the excitement of our journey by train.

My writer's mind can still picture the scenes that passed by, and the small towns,  the wafts of summer evenings that drifted up into the cabin at every stop, pick-up trucks stopped at train gates, the train whistling hello, strangers lifting caps and waving up at us, lonely prairies, the simple thrill of walking to the dining car, the wilds of Montana and snow capped mountains, the mystery of these different worlds passing by under the comforting rhythmic hymn of the train tracks below.

It is thirty years later. I write. I suppose I fall under the classification, the generalization even of a struggling writer, of course I do. I struggle because I'm a mom of three, and I work full time and writing comes at the end of every day, at 9 pm, when children sleep and crumbs have been swept up and the house is quiet and the laundry and the dishwasher hum their end of day tunes. I write past eleven, past  midnight, some nights closer to one, when I glance at my word count and 48, 097 seems like enough progress. We are getting there, me and this book, this story that won't stop.

That's my journey now. Another trip, alone, me and the laptop and the train, it would seem a luxury, words spinning by, adding up and up and up. I might just reach my destination. And then I'd have another story to tell.