We finally made it home last night at (precisely) one twenty-one a.m., several hours late. On the last leg of our trip back to Providence, as our train was passing the Fairfield, Connecticut station, it struck and killed a man. The incident might have been a suicide, but it was probably just a terrible accident. No one has much in the way of answers yet. The police detained the train for over two hours. When they finally disembarked (quite a few were on the train), we made it only as far as New Haven when we had to stop for another forty minutes or so to be sure there was no damage to the engine from the incident. Then, somewhere near the Connecticut-Rhode Island state line, the train had to stop a third time, because a drawbridge had been raised and couldn't be lowered.
I'm not even going to try to describe the hell that was getting stuck on the "party train" between Birmingham and Atlanta, but the blaring booty music and drunks dancing in the aisles and screaming "Who Dat!" made me long for the power to make people's heads explode. Kathryn shot video, and we will both be lodging complaints with Amtrak.
But, two weeks later, I'm back in Providence.
I've come home to a lot of neglected work. And also to my author's copies of the Brazilian edition The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. It's a very handsome trade paperback, far sturdier than almost all US paperbacks.
There was a long dream this morning that involved me dating Joan Jett. Also, lecturing to a group of the Carboniferous geology of Alabama. Also, Kathryn yelling at me about drugs.
I have this photograph from our last night in Leeds. Kathryn and I went out for a long drive through the late summer night, and we ended up parked in the vacant lot between 1st and 2nd avenues NE. When I was a kid, this is where carnivals set up, where tent revivals were held. The air was warm and sticky and sweet; the insects were loud. The smoke stacks of the Lehigh Portland Cement Company loom up above the field (when I was young, it was the Standard Portland Cement Company), less than three hundred yards to the south. This is the landscape of my youth, and that field and that factory underscore how much I miss the "dirty old town" that Leeds once was. What Leeds has become, too much of it, especially off towards Moody, is a hideous post-Wal-Mart, bloated, sprawling, fast-food addled, gaudy subdivision-scarred consumerist nightmare. But in old downtown, you can, thankfully, still see what Leeds was when I was growing up. I have lots of fine photos from that drive, which I'll post later. For now, I leave you with this one, me in that vacant lot, beneath the waxing moon, gazing fondly towards the cement plant.
Perhaps the strangest part of the trip – well one of the strangest parts – was Mom giving me my Gradpa Ramey's old shotgun and my Grandma Ramey's revolver. I left them both in Leeds, of course, but now I'm the owner of two firearms. I have mixed feelings about this, but I am grateful to have them. Does this mean it's time for me to join the goddamn NRA?
Already Missing Alabama,