“I think I’m going to throw up.”
It was 10 o’clock at night and we had just arrived at the train station. The nerves and excitement that got me through the days of planning and packing for this first journey of the USA by rail had turned to dread.
My friend pulled into the circle drive and stopped. I sat there, silently refusing to get out and take this first step.
“I mean it. I’m going to throw up,” I threatened.
“Get your luggage out of the trunk,” Paula replied.
Paula, who for weeks had been more scared for me than I was for myself, was now an incredibly brave woman. She had worried about me being so far away; she had worried about my safety; she bought me pepper spray and told me to keep it close. Then she kicked me out of the car.
“I’m not coming in,” she said. “I have to work in the morning. Now get your luggage out of the trunk.”
Flush, near panic, I did as she said. I grabbed my two incredibly heavy roller bags and stacked one on top of the other. I’d spent months obsessing over the best way to carry my office and clothing, but not once did I load the bags and stack them on top of each other for a trial run. They were so heavy I could barely lift them over the curb. I suddenly worried what I would do if the weight broke the wheels of the bottom luggage. Too late to make a change, I stacked the luggage, then added my purse, a food cooler, my camera bag. I was a one-woman traveling show of excess. And I would pay for it along the way. And later, in the midst of inconceivable scenes of poverty, be shamed by my excesses.
But that’s another story.
Petrified, I took a selfie just before the train departed.