I've had a weird reoccurrence in my life of meeting people who share a past with me. I have friends now in Chicago that I once served drinks to, strangers to one another, while living in Baltimore in my early 20s. These situations happen lot. So when I met Ryan Ford at random soon after he moved to Chicago, I wasn't terribly surprised to find out that he and I both spent parts of our childhood living in Manassas, Virginia. Turns out he's a talented designer, spending a lot of time on the road, but has fallen in love with riding the train. He took a long walk and gathered some thoughts to go along with photos he took testing out a newly-purchased film camera on his ride from DC back to the Midwest. Enjoy!
As the summer air thins and heads south for the winter, The Cold slithers in to gum the gears of the city. It browns the leaves, and paints everything desaturated and lethargic. Plans for The Dark Months are dusted off and reevaluated, and friends in distant neighborhoods become special occasions.
But the train still leaves on time.
It’s not my job or my interest really to sell anyone a particular method of travel that I personally find comfort in. By this point, I know the statistics. I’ve taken to heart every well-meaning anecdote. I’ve tried every obtuse combination of pills and alcohol and in-flight entertainment to stop the shaking hands and clenched teeth for the duration of the short flight from BWI to O’Hare. If you can believe it, for my dollar, I’d still rather find myself at Union Station than the airport they named after that actor we elected. I like to believe I’d feel the same were I wired without this anxiety.
No, for my part I can only exalt the meditative rhythm of rail ties, the slow, ambling parallax of scenery, and the freedom to enjoy the company of strangers (or move to another car). That, and to hush the glorification of speed when it bears no substance.
So, the next time you find yourself in need of an escape, or when the forced immobility of winter has found you stir crazy, come and find me in the bar car. We can face each other, enjoy a drink or three, and take photos of the passing country as we please. I can’t find anything to fear in that.