i’m on a train in north carolina, and i have been on it for eight hours.  it is an hour behind schedule, an hour off from my destination still, and we are stopped with locomotive trouble.  this seems like a good opportunity to look back over the last few much more enjoyable days, the review of which will hopefully subdue my urges to kill someone.

so, boston!  i stayed with my college friend mensch, her two lovely, culinarily spectacular roommates, and her wry, chunky cat, brussel (above).   upon landing, the city greeted me with a gorgeous sunset and several colorful characters, just to remind me of their gregarious ubiquity around town.  first was a rather vacant individual who sat next to me on the bus, lolling his head over toward me every couple of minutes to ask a few more slurred questions.  these ranged from queries on whether i had any children (and may lose me a bet i made with the pebbles about how many people would raise the subject on this trip – i, apparently optimistically, did not foresee this as a frequent topic of conversation with strangers), to whether there was much gang activity in new zealand.  i was divided on how to answer this line of questioning – was it an attempt to appraise my gang-savviness?  however tempted, i refrained from saying, ‘yes, and the most vicious is the colossal squid gang, of which i am king.’  then, on the walk from the t-station to mensch’s house, another garrulous person approached me, with a running environmental commentary that evolved into  ‘wow, that’s a lot of stuff you’re carrying!  pop pop!  you got a baby on there, too?  no?  oh, sorry’ as he walked past.

apart from the chatty strangers (of which there were several more, including a hotelier-gymnast from barcelona who tried to convince me to come to starbucks with him – no go for several reasons), the visit was a fantastic mix of visiting old stomping grounds (wellesley, neaq) and catching up with very good, far-too-seldom-seen friends.  there was an octopus encounter to rival the one that got me hooked on cephs, some 13 years ago, at the very same tank. the final morning was something of a strike-out, when i failed to check the garment district’s opening hours before going there, and then discovered that an old friend whom i had decided to try dropping in on unannounced had actually moved to chicago a few months earlier, but i did find a nice exhibit on arthropods at the harvard museum of natural history, and spent some time happily peering at claws, segments and various other jointed appendages in jars.  and some very cool ceph items in the gift shop.

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a quick swoop through dc was next, staying with koenigin and encompassing another quick series of location and old friend visits.  there was a delicious ethiopian dinner (now traditional for dc visits), and pilgrimages to the old neighborhood and to the bookstore that the pebbles remembers with great fondness, despite being the object of a failed pick-up attempt the last time he visited there.  (i considered, but ultimately decided against, buying him a book on gaydar.)  there was ice cream, a stammtisch with some other waldsee veterans, a visit to the baltimore aquarium, admiration of the copious new leaves and blossoms on trees, and a rather chilly reminder that april weather is fickle and often wet.  there were busy and important people in shiny shoes crammed into trains, pointedly ignoring each other in spite of very close quarters, and ambient discussions of the averted government shut-down, and descents down 126 non-functioning escalator steps into deeply subterranean metro stations.  in short, everything i remember about dc from previous life and visits.

and then, inevitably, we reach the point where this narrative catches up to the present moment.  it didn’t even have to travel terribly fast to catch up, since we are still sitting in the same train station.  the sun has set, the train is dark inside since the power is out, we have just been told it will be at least another 30 minutes, and a couple of small children in the back of the car are treating us to a rousing chorus of ‘bad romance’.  people are on cell phones all around me, expressing varying degrees of pragmatism and ire.  my parents have been informed that we will be arriving by bus, but no one on the train has been told this information; i am torn between waiting it out, and spreading the news.  either way, i think i will stash my laptop in preparation for an ever-more-imminent riot.

epilogue: an hour later, my parents picked me up, having driven from our destination in lexington.  thank cthulhu for cell phones.  i found someone to speak german with in the meantime, and was just generally thankful to have broken down close enough to be rescued, unlike many other poor sods who were waiting to go to charlotte but wouldn’t arrive until probably 1am or so.  we got home around 10, 3.5 hours later than i was supposed to arrive, but it could have been so, so much worse.