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Long trip provides much-needed personal time

Out There
Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Last weekend, I was swimming in time.

It felt rare and precious, and I loved it.

It began Saturday morning, as I caught the Amtrak back to Glenwood. I was facing about 30 hours of slow-moving rail travel ” and I don’t even own an iPod. But I was excited. I wanted all those hours to hang out with myself, maybe even get truly, honest-to-God bored.



I found my seat, and looked out the big windows as we screeched away alongside the San Francisco Bay. I had a copy of “Slaughterhouse-Five,” a cribbage board, some crayons and a half-knitted baby sweater in my bag. It’s funny, but I felt totally prepared.

What’s even stranger is that I was.



It’s simple for me to spend my weekends in a pattern of distraction. It’s easier to listen to music, see movies and drive all kinds of places than it is to sit quietly in a chair for a long while. Amazingly, though, that’s just what I did on the train. I would look out the window as we went through especially pretty spots, but mostly I was chugging away on my book and knitting the little sleeves to my project. It all felt so tangible and wholesome and grounding. I ate it up.

I would have thought my self-imposed solitude would drive people away, but it was just the opposite. I met an Australian fellow who worked for big gas company, and we had conversations on and on for hours. Sitting near me was a young guy and his daughter who happened to live near my old house in the tiny town of Mendocino, Calif. I asked them if they knew my friend’s dad ” and they did.

I ended up at dinner with this friendly couple, originally from Chicago. They had a toddler and total desire to talk, and we kept drinking in the lounge car until 3 a.m. They had all these crazy stories about moving around, about now living in Mormon country in Idaho Falls. Before they got off in Salt Lake City, the wife had given some me some advice, like don’t worry about relationships. And never, ever move to Idaho.

I know that all these little moments aren’t groundbreaking, perhaps not even terribly interesting to anyone else. But, at the time, they felt personal and sweet and kind of important. And they only came about because I, finally, had time for them.

I may not be on a train this weekend, but I can’t help but want that sense of leisure again. It might sound kind of subtle ” but it makes all the difference.


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