Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2017 >Daily Dispatch #128

May 8, 2017: On the Train Again

Looking out the train window at the North Dakota landscape, it is overcast with the sun shining through what appears to be a thin quilt cloud blanket. The light is now illuminating patches of green gently rolling farmland. Earlier, the train crossed the flat prairie area of western Minnesota. Former prairie, now farmland. The train, though moving slowly, is moving too fast – I want to better take in the changes in the mind’s eye.

I am in the lounge car, across from me are Mitch and Joe, co-train travelers. Right now they are playing a game of online chess. Mitch is on the seat behind Joe, peering over his shoulder. Mitch said that he hates playing chess, that it is game of chance. But here he is, fully engaged in the process.

I met Joe yesterday, in the late afternoon, when I ventured into the lounge car. He struck up a conversation with me. We were soon joined by Mitch. Mitch is 23, Joe (I think) in his mid-thirties. Mitch is wearing a gray cotton winter cap, Joe is wearing a ball cap with the words Cup Matches on it. Mitch is wearing a tee-shirt with the words Slip Knot on it – has head shots of some heavy metal band members. Joe is wearing an Adidas hoodie. Mitch has a lean face, has a smattering of facial hair and a slight case of acne, Joe has a round face, and a full round beard. He needs to trim his moustache.

Both Joe and Mitch are kindly, funny in an obscure kind of way. I laugh at their jokes – but the cultural divide has ultimately been too far to bridge. They smile at my jokes, out of politeness. My jokes, you see, are clean, and my stories are really not of as much interest as theirs are, or so they think. I refuse to play the older woman card, but it is stuck behind my ear.

I have had moments when I have wondered if I am dealing with two pathological liars. This thought has been unsettling – but in the great scope of things, it is of little matter. I mean, really, could Mitch really have eaten 30 McDonald hamburgers? And did Joe decide to go on a McDonald’s kind of diet?

What makes me think that they are legit is that Joe has been working on a school board budget and Mitch has stuck with his story that he is a salesman. In listening to them both, I realize that I’ve been in deep freeze – most of their cultural references, mostly video – related, have gone right over my head.

Mitch at first was skeptical about Joe, particularly when he went to pick up a girl at an adjacent table. But the tie that binds is now chess. Mitch has been giving Joe directives, and the two have been concentrating their energies on beating the computer.

The two have been a diversion for me, but little more. As they have been playing, I have been typing past dispatches into my computer. Interestingly, being on the move has provided me with the energy to do this. A good thing, travel, as in Dr. Suess’s Oh the Places you will go.

Next: 129. 5/9/17: Heading Home

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles