The Truth Board

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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Journeys to the Middle

“Babe I gotta go, the train’s here,” I grabbed my bags, piling them onto my shoulder.

“Okay, be safe. I’ll see you in 8 hours. Love you.” I echoed her affections and hung up. It was 6am and the sky still dark with only hints of pinks and purples. I watched the train emerge from behind a Living Spaces warehouse up to the run down platform on which I stood. I boarded the train and took my usual seat by the stairs on the second story and watched Van Nuys as it slipped out of view.

This was our routine, every two weeks. LA to San Luis Obispo. San Luis Obispo to LA. The attendant didn’t even check my ticket anymore and instead would just smile, ask how school was going, and scribble “SLO” on the tag above my seat. The train, as I quickly learned, was a moving epicenter for undergrads in long distance relationships. Our convoy was made up of a few business men in polyester suits and leather briefcases or the occasional family of tourists, but the majority of Amtrak’s capital centered around those customers that sat alone with a small duffel bag, their college of choice embroidered on the front of their crew neck sweater, gripping their cell phones tightly.

Every time the train came to its next stop I would glance out the window, trying to catch a glimpse of that first interaction, first embrace. Fridays were the good days. On Fridays the train buzzed with excitement; you’d talk to a stranger for an hour and a half just to kill the time that seemed to drag by excruciatingly slowly. You’d mentally map out what you were going to do all weekend, so long as it didn’t rip you away from that person, if only for a second. One by one people would exit the train at their stops and fall into the arms of those they loved, the ones who had been waiting for them on the platform in the cold for half an hour.

It was the Sundays I dreaded. I would say my own goodbyes, boarding the train, watching her small body standing on the platform until she was just a speck in the distance. The despair was so palpable on Sundays I would almost always force myself to sleep, a self-preservation tactic I had learned over the months. To stay awake meant being forced to witness each person’s own individual goodbyes, the long embraces, the short, needy kisses, the endless flow of tears…it was always better to swallow a Benadryl and wake up in the outskirts of Los Angeles, wondering how you could force yourself to endure another trip.



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