Proceed to Central Station

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Sunday
October 25, 1998

Read any good books lately?

mrs. hill forgot where she sat and so wandered in socks from car to carI never would have made it out on time without the help of friends. Meyers picked me up in his Saturn wagon and even that wasn't big enough for the 6 big boxes and 4 carry-ons I'd been up all night and day packing, so he drove ahead and I hailed a cab and cried a little to myself in back with one 60-lb box in the trunk as I rode down Park saying goodbye to the only place I've ever lived that I never wanted to leave. There was some confusion getting my baggage on board so Michael, Molly, John, and I hugged goodbye in the bowels of Penn amid indestructible orange pallets and hydraulic hand-operated forklifts--not at all the old movie railway farewell I'd envisioned. I stood alone in that empty place until my savior Jose corrected the mistake of the surly redcap I'd overtipped in a misguided attempt to ingratiate myself and after giving Jose all I could afford (which was less than he deserved) I was on my way, the first to board the Chicago-bound train on Track 8. I would have a sleeper from Chicago to Seattle but the first night I had a seat in coach so I spent most of my time in the lounge, where red-eyed Ira offered to buy back the Amtrak travel kit toothbrush I'd just purchased, which made me wonder if I'd been the first to use it. All you need is a paper towel and some salt, he explained, a tip from his traveling thee-ate-er days. I'd paid for it with an Eisenhower bicentennial dollar which he bit and slipped --something special-- into his pocket, the side-to-side motion of the train his excuse for staggering.