He kept dreamin’
Ooh, that someday, he’d be a star
(A superstar but he didn’t get far)
But he sure found out the hard way
That dreams don’t always come true, oh no
Read more: Gladys Knight And The Pips – Midnight Train To Georgia Lyrics | MetroLyrics
Oddly, I’ve had this song bouncing around in my head ever since I began planning my Atlanta trip to visit one of my sisters. It probably has more to do with the Amtrak that departs from Greensboro, North Carolina at 12:22 AM for Atlanta. This makes up the second leg of travel if one wishes to reach the city of peaches? peach tree city? haha I don’t know Atlanta’s knickname but imagine it’s something to do with peaches right?, from Durham.
First The Backstory
Because every character must have a backstory, and my family is full of characters.
Many of us see social media’s dark side: its tendency to isolate us and make a person more likely to hold a conversation with someone 2,000 miles away than one sitting right across the table from him. Board any bus or train these days, and you’ll note that there is an element of truth to this assumption.
However, there are some silver linings. For instance, I think that Facebook has made our somewhat scattered family more aware of what is going on with each of its members than we have been in many years. Most of us don’t really have easy access to constant transportation, or else priorities like kids, jobs, etc mean that we must stay relatively close to home. The online space allows us to celebrate achievements, pick each other up, and otherwise respond on a near daily basis, bringing some real closeness back.
So, my eldest sister responded to one of my recent Facebook posts by saying that she would really like it if I made the journey down to Atlanta someday. I thought about it, and decided why not sooner rather than later. I go to see my cousin most holidays, and while I will always enjoy hanging out with him and would do so whenever possible, a little variety is, as they say, the spice of life. Daring to do something different creates unexpected opportunity, as I most certainly discovered throughout this vacation. I left Friday and returned yesterday.
The First Leg
As the Friday workday drew to a close, I was already feeling concerned due to a wave of tiredness brought on by Sunday night’s lack of sleep. How does that make any sense, you ask? Well, I never really get the chance to fully catch up if that initial workday is offkilter, at least not till the next weekend. I figured what the hey though, after that long overnight train ride I would be way out of sorts anyway.
The cab deposited me at Durham Amtrak Station, and after stepping inside of its frigid confines to retrieve my boarding pass, I insisted on waiting in the mugginess that threatened rain.
“I’m not built for cold!” I told the woman behind the counter as she slid the ticket into my hand. Maybe it’s a sign of how many times I’ve passed through that station that she was saying “Hi, Mr. Miller” before I even got all the way to the counter. And her voice didn’t even sound like one of the people I know for sure.
The train is supposed to leave at 5:24, but that big thing is almost never on time. Yet for a holiday weekend it did remarkably well, rolling in at 5:39. A passenger ran up to assist me, because she hadn’t seen that one of the other women who works in there, my favorite, was making her way out. As I made my way down the aisle, a pair of hands popped out to suck me into a row and I settled in.
“Hi,” I said, because I must always attempt to greet the person sitting next to me. I allow them to decide if they wish to converse further.
Immediately, this person was interested. It seems that she rather suddenly lost a significant amount of sight, especially her central vision. I don’t know much about how sight works, but apparently this makes it hard for her to identify faces, view things that are either too close or too far away, and results in a classification of legal blindness. Understandably, she has found the adjustment challenging. I talked about how I can empathize due to the fact that I have lost so much hearing over the years and have to keep re-thinking how I handle social situations. Unintended feelings in others of having been snubbed by simply not knowing that our attention was being requested was definitely a common issue.
I’m never sure to what degree I am helpful in such situations, but this is a big reason why I am always open to talking to people about my blindness, heck we may as well say deafblindness at least if not wearing hearing aids, and how I cope. I’m just hoping that she can use technology that she already has, like the iPhone, to at least mitigate some of the changes. I will continue to do what I can.
The train arrived in Greensboro pretty much on time, after another minor delay while we awaited the passing of the Raleigh-bound train. I was interested, because I would finally get to enter their vaunted station.
On entering, I met a nice individual who made sure I had everything I needed from arrival till departure. We got to their little coffee shop just as it was closing, and I snagged a Mountain Dew. Then, she dug up menus from somewhere and I placed an order with a place called, I think, Big City Burgers for, you guessed it, a burger and fries. It seems that any restaurants in that general vicinity will deliver to the station, which is pretty cool. Given that I had six hours to wait, I had contemplated taking a cab somewhere. I guess this saved me some dough, though.
I didn’t do much else, except wolf down that sandwich, listen to some of the college football game between Syracuse and Vilanova, and read a little. The wait didn’t seem that bad, so long as my wonderful entertainment device was charged and functioning. And speaking of, if you have a smart phone or tablet and don’t have an external battery, I recommend getting this one from Amazon. It has changed my life. Well ok that’s probably an exaggeration, but you get my point.
The Second Leg<
Because the train left from Greensboro’s station, it departed right on time. This time, I was seated beside an older woman who wrapped up in her blanket and dropped off pretty quickly.
In fact, the whole cabin felt almost otherworldly, with the whistle sound drifting in as if on a fog. This may have had more to do with the mode in which I had my hearing aids set. I’d wanted to see the lounge on this train, if that were even possible, but figured it would be hard to summon someone with everything so quiet. No stations were called either, and after a 45 minute stop in Charlotte, we largely just kept on rolling.
Continued in next entry, as it stretched on into Saturday like my flight to Madrid nearly 10 years ago. Stay tuned!