As I write this, my train is trundling down the Pacific coast, filled with sleepy people on their way from somewhere, or on their way to somewhere, or, I suppose, both at once, because that is how travelling works. I am not ON my train, because, although it has already been travelling now for thirteen and a half hours, Im not due to get on it until first thing tomorrow morning, two thirds of the way through its long journey from Seattle to Los Angeles.
I just find it weird to think that my train, the train on which well begin our two week journey, is already out there, already on its way, already filled with people who feel like theyve been on it forever, and I havent even stepped onto it yet. I havent even set off for the station yet. I havent even attempted a last nights sleep.
The sleep thing is looking unlikely, to be honest. All the excitement about the theoretical concept of a two week train trip turned in to a bubbling mass of anticipation during the last few days, and today its just turned into an enormous bucket of fret. When I should have been packing, I was on the internet, compulsively flicking through forums of dedicated train-riders sharing tips and rules and horror stories and favourite seats and carriages to arrive and lists of things that you should definitely make sure you have with you, and things that you simply cannot do without.
I have thrown myself into a tizzy. Never having arranged such a complicated multi-leg trip, Ive printed every piece of confirmation or crucial paperwork out, Ive double checked every bit of accommodation twice and am STILL convinced that I have forgotten something, or that something will go wrong on the very first day of the trip and the rest – all that Ive built it up to be and everything Ive promised – will all be for nothing.
The postcards are all stamped and addressed, and shuffled into a random order that means that family, friends, internet folk and kindly passing strangers are all mixed in together so I have less of a temptation of getting muddled and being all conversational rather than doing the thing I intended and using the cards as mobile notes, parts of a whole rather than a whole in themselves. Finding an email meant for the postcard list in my email spam filter has set off another wave of panic, meanwhile, about letting people down, as has not having time to reply individually to the lovely people whove used that there donation button on the side to support the project and the postage involved, because I worry it makes me look like an ingrate.
I do love the word ingrate, though, so am quietly pleased the situation has meant that I get to use it, even if it was about me.
I dont think Ive been this nervous – or this excited – about anything in a very very long time. Im fretting, and terrified, and excited, and, well, mainly fretting. And while I like the reason Im fretting, I could do without the fretting itself. I could do with a magic wand that I would wave and all the fret would go away and my heart would beat at a normal rate and my brain would be filled with the normal sorts of pre-travel feelings that normal people who dont enjoy professional levels of frettingness would feel at this particular time.
But there is no wand. There is no non-fretting-sparkle-dust that I can sprinkle over my head, so I will sit here and fret, quietly, in the corner. Or Ill do that for the next six hours, and then Ill go and get in a car and set off for the station. And then my train – the one thats trundling toward us through the night, and will just keep on trundling once were on board, and for the next two weeks. Me, and my beloved, and a very large stack of postcards.
And at some point – Im hoping some very early point, some time sooner rather than late – this whole thing will stop being fretty and worrity and terrifying and like a house of cards waiting to be blown over, and start being exciting again.
Im hoping that happens about three mintes after I step onto that train, the one that is already on its way to meet me, and sit down, and pull out my little stack of postcards and a pen.
Will update when I can.