So I took the Acela Express down to DC to se Naomi and meet her family -- what a wonderful (but too brief) trip. Didn't start out so great, however -- this is verbatim from my notebook:
"Fri 7/28 noon Acela
Oh man, you're killing me, people next to me, your conversation would be so much quieter if you would just sit next to each other rather than talking over the seat backs, or turn around and shut up. Because nobody wants to hear about your Oakley watch and your Oakley sunglasses and how "everything I'm wearing right now is Oakley." Have I picked the very very worst seat possible on this train? Must I be forced to murder people this early in the trip? Good, at least Oakley guy has cozied up and moved next to her, sounds like they just met on the platform, so uncomfortable, and they're right fucking next to me, and it's going to be a long ride down there listening to this crap. It's like sitting next to the longest first blind date in the world. At least they're quieter now. I should have brought my iPod. I wish I could pull a curtain between me and them. UT SHAY UP YAY. Anyway, I'm anxious, I hate traveling, hate leaving my house, at least I'm not flying. Now her voice is the loud irritating one. OH MY GOD I don't want to hear your resume shut up shut up shut up..."
Because that's the kind of deep introspection I often engage in, when writing in my notebook.
Anyway, I ditch the notebook and pull out In Cold Blood and read for a while, take a trip to the snack car, doze. I wake up around Baltimore, and Oakley Boy has the girl's legs slung across his lap, and he has reached up under the legs of her culottes to massage her calves and thighs. He's murmuring, and she's giggling. People, it is on! Oakley Boy is scoring! Right here on the fucking Acela! That's, like, the 100 miles fast club, or something!
So I keep waiting for them to sneak off to the bathroom or something great like that, but then he winds up getting off in Wilmington, and they promise to keep in touch, and he kisses her cheek goodbye, smiling and waving from the platform. I boggle my eyes at her. DUDE! But she doesn't look over. She just smirks to herself, flips her ironed hair, wiggles her painted toes in her wedge espadrilles, and pulls out a copy of Glamour.
We arrive, and I scan the crowd for Naomi, who I last saw around the age of fourteen. And there she is -- still with the face of a fourteen-year-old girl -- happy, open, smiling, switched-on, and waving at me. We exchange a huge hug, find the car, and the gabbing begins.
The gabbing does not cease! So much to talk about! Everything! Painful stuff, happy stuff, life stuff, art stuff. Everything. I want to say, "So what do you want to do first? Run around on the lawn like horses, or play Spies?" I want to say, "Holy cow, look at you, you're DRIVING A CAR!" We arrive at her home, and I am introduced to her beautiful children, one age two and the other only four months old. They are two of the happiest, brightest, most sociable children I've ever met. It's a little appalling. I have rarely seen motherhood look attractive to me, but if this is what you wind up with...I'll take the two-year-old, to go, please.
A wonderful husband, a happy home -- what a great environment for me to be in overnight. I came home and raved to Bill, "I can't even believe what great parents they are. They just adore being around their kids and spending time with them. They are so attentive without being neurotic in the least. They reason with their children, and it works!" Amazing, that a home can work this way -- no shouting, no snapping, no swatting. I used to shout at, snap at, and swat my kid brother; to this day, it causes me no end of remorse. That's not how you treat a kid.
So we talked about books and politics and religion and music, often at the same time; about making friends and finding communities and negotiating with our families. The baby jumped and giggled in his exer-saucer, and the dog presented her belly to be rubbed. The hours flew by. Oh, and the salmon was delicious.
Too soon, it was time to go. Goodbye for now, talk to you during the week. On the way out of town, I get the added bonus of meeting up with Kirsten for coffee -- first I see an old friend, then a brand-new one. Again, with the gabbing! And again, too brief. I walk onto the train feeling great, find myself a seat in the Quiet Car, which has signs every five feet bearing a pair of lips with a finger over them. Shhhh! No cell phones, no conversations in the Quiet Car! Ahhhhhhhh!
From my notebook, yesterday:
WHY DO PEOPLE SIT IN THE FUCKING QUIET CAR AND THEN TALK?