April 29, 2009

Through the Rockies on my own.


I had made the journey once before, under different circumstances though. I found myself making this journey once again. My Raleigh reliant road bike is stowed in the bicycle room in the baggage car, my cabin, though small seems like a vast empty music hall. I leave for dinner as the four chime sounds and I see in the corner of my eye the porter entering and turning down the bed for the night.

The dining car is filled with groups and couples, occasionally here and there, there are businessmen sitting alone eating dinner by themselves, but after putting down their flatware, they'd shift over to the bar car for joviality. I remained planted. My business bag in the chair next to me, a few books peer out from the opening, their covers reaching out their arms asking me to pick one. I dont pay any attention to any of them, instead, I'm peering at a familiar face looking back at me. I look into his little brown eyes, his antlers peek out like a set of rabbit ears. His big brown nose is mottled from months of nuzzling and falling asleep. That flip floppy moose never left my side since college. Now I'm on a Canadian Pacific dining car, racing through the Rockies on my way to a Canadian Timberwoods conference in Ottawa. I had to leave my cushy little apartment in Vancouver for this at the request of my foreman at the furniture workshop.

I've been to Ottawa once or twice. I think it was twice. The last time, I went with a special someone. I pulled the sliding door to the observation car, hearing it hiss behind me as it closed. I looked ahead of me, the stairway climbing up to the observation platform. I sushed my feet over the faded carpet, my sperry topsiders illuminated by the ground guiders. I take a seat at a familiar booth, the porter comes by with the small iron brazer to keep the booth warm. I pull out moosie, set him onto the table. The heat of the brazer starts to warm him up, the smell of pink grapefruit starts to fill the car, a few couples heads turn to find the source of the smell, the look but turn back.

At ten, the lights are extinguished, the waiter made his rounds, I order a pot of earl grey and he brings it around and places it on top of the brazer. His white mess jacket disappears at the end of the car and descends to the lower half of the car. I sit quietly, the orange glow from the coils dimly illuminate the table top. Moosie rolls over as the train turns over a large curve. I pull the heavy sheepskin blanket up higher over my lap and my head drops back. The stars drift slowly through the clear ceiling. The cold mountain air laps up against the window, occasionally tangoing with the warm air making little foggy spots. The snow capped peaks rush by, the tall pines fall over behind me. I cock my head forward again realizing i'm the only person in the car left. The slow shlucking of the wheels makes me shiver. The moonlight illuminates the car dimly and the pale white light makes the car seem to be lonely. The porter comes up, his white jacket is dazzling in the light he makes a small comment, that the car is closing. I bundle up the blanket, tuck moosie into my arm and I walk out. I look back one more time, I can feel her under my arm as I walk out, funny thing is, she's not there anymore.

I change into an undershirt and basketball shorts. I click out the light I lay in the top bunk. She would have been in the bottom and joined me, but I laid there like a log, my arms outreached, embracing the extra pillow just with one thing on my mind.

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