I had the most interesting train ride home. It went straight from San Luis Obispo to Seattle in 32 hours time. A pretty long trip. After about two hours on the train, I made my way to the “Cafe” where they serve anything from hot sandwiches to ice cream. They pretty much got it all. I reached into my purse and found something missing–my wallet. I had no clue at the time what had happened to it. Of course, I immediately think I had left it back at my seat. After rummaging through my bags, I found nothing. After that, I assumed I’d left it back at the SLO station. I was without money and the old man behind the cafe counter wouldn’t accept my checks.

“Traveler’s checks. Only.”

“Uh. I don’t have traveler’s checks.” Do I look like the type who carries traveler’s checks?

“Sorry.”

The man who was in the seat next to me, named Jules (short for Julian), was… talkative… to say the least. An interesting fellow who (Brian will know what I’m talking about here) thinks he possesses the funny gene. Fairly early in our trip, he grabbed one of the small pillow cases (the ones the attendants give you when you first get on the train) and tossed it over my head, saying, “There. Now you look like a French maid.” Oh goodie. However, he soon learned of my dilemma, and caught me completely off guard later that evening when he brought me a cup of chicken noodle soup. I hadn’t even asked him for it and he brought the best thing I could ever desire: soup.

“Are you serious? You didn’t have to do that.”

“Yeah, but I wanted to.”

Jules, for whatever real humor you lack, you make up for in good taste in food. Because, and the rest of the universe can confirm this, I love soup. I ate that soup and I even finished off the broth. So satisfactory and so “hit the spot”.

As the trip progressed, I learned a lot about Jules and of the rest of the people whose conversations I overheard. Amongst five addicted smokers, I was one non-smoker. Every single time the train came to a stop, I heard the same relentless banter:

“Do you think we can step out there and smoke a while?”

“I’m not sure. Did the conductor say anything?”

“I didn’t hear anything.”

“It’s been over an hour since we last stopped and had a drag.”

“I’m gonna lose it if I don’t smoke soon.”

“Maybe we can stick our heads out a window and smoke that way. Think they would mind?”

“We should ask.”

“You ask.”

“No you.”

“I could have smoked an entire cigarette in this amount of time.”

“I hate this addiction.”

“I keep trying to quit.”

“Cold turkey’s the best way.”

“That’s true. I’ve done it twice now…”

And on and on. And every single time they went out to have a “drag”, they would come back reaking of nicotine. Of course, the woman behind me, Charlene, had to try and cover it up by dowsing yourself in this rich perfume, which was worse than the cigarette smell. The combination of both made my eyes water. Nice people, but it was hard to overlook that horrid, disgusting habit. They were constantly talking about it too. At one point, I actually thought they had put me on the “Smokers Car” because it seemed as though every time the train made a “smoke stop”, everyone on my car left. It would become deserted! Except for me, sitting there, staring out the window, watching the clouds of smoke rise from their nostrils and the ashes falling to the cement. Jules must have gone through at least a pack from when I got on in SLO up through the point when he got off in Portland, Oregon. To me, that seems like a lot. But I’m not a smoker, so I honestly don’t know.

Shortly before Jules got off the train, I found my wallet. Sometime during the hustle at the SLO station, I managed to toss my wallet in the bag carrying my video camera and tapes. Lucky for me, when I got bored and pulled my camera out to watch some of the home video footage, there was my blue Snoopy wallet with the ductaped edge resting comfortably atop everything else. Of course, I wouldn’t tell Jules that it had been there all along. I was too embarrassed. Besides, I’d already written him a check for the dinner and the breakfast he’d paid for, so whether or not he knew if I got my wallet back didn’t really matter.

The best part of the entire trip was Oregon. We went through this incredible snow storm and it was beautiful. The combination of the trees and the lake and the freshly fallen snow–picturesque. And I took a lot of pictures. Although, I’m unsure as to how they all turned out. I’m hoping some did because I’d like to post them. I was captivated the whole time. Especially with Coldplay serenading me through my CD player. Coldplay is excellent snow music. Good choice.

I arrived home at about 12:15 am. I was happy to see my dad. He was waiting for me outside. It was really funny as I walked up. He was surrounded by several other people waiting to greet the other passengers, so I was trying to distinct him from everyone else. It was quite difficult at first because he had his hood pulled up around his head and his hands were stuffed in his pocket. He looked like the average onlooker, bundled up due to the rain and the cold. But the moment he took out his left hand and waved, I knew it was him. He has the most distinct wave known to mankind. I can’t even describe it. I saw it and knew without a shred of doubt that it was my dad. I think I might wave just like him, too, unknowingly. I wish I knew.

It was a lovely drive back home. With the rain and everything. I did end up missing the Switchfoot show. Of course, I did get there after midnight. No way the show went on passed 10:30 or 11:00 pm.

I was very much looking forward to entering my bedroom and collapsing in a neatly made bed. I assumed it would be neatly made because Norma (mom’s cleaning lady) would have been there on Thursday, and I hadn’t touched my room since Thursday. Therefore, it would have been just as though Norma had been there that day. I could hardly wait. But it didn’t happen. I walked through my bedroom door and found a disheveled, ransacked, torn apart bedroom filled with crap. My bed was pulled away from the wall. My hope chest was too. The stuff for the garage sale I want to have is not so neatly piled around my floor. My laundy was tossed about. My dresser drawers were all open and gone through. Does anyone have any idea how invaded this can make someone feel?

I mean… What the heck!?

So, after coming upon that scene, I decided it would be best if I came downstairs and blogged a while, to get it out of my system. It’s now five minute to 3:00 am and I figure I should head back up there and see if I can’t clean up a bit. I have no idea what happened in there, but I’ll find out. As soon as I do, I’ll keep you posted.

Just promise me something. Don’t ever go through someone else’s room and leave it in such disarray. I feel very disrespected right now. I’m sure you can imagine.

Alright, I’m finished for the evening (morning?). Although, I do want to say this one last thing:

Thanks, Brian, for showing me an awesome time. Your family is awesome, your friends are awesome, the whole town was incredible. Unforgettable. Really. And the Tia Juanas…

I’m really going to miss the Tia Juanas.

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