The writer Caity Weaver has given us many wonderful experiences about the years. The first two that come to mind are “My 14-Hour Search for the End of TGI Friday’s Endless Appetizers” and “What Is Glitter?” A new experience arrives today in the New York Times Magazine Voyages issue. The Times sends Weaver on Amtrak across the country.
I’ve always thought I’d like to take trains across the country. Every time Amtrak emails about a sale on the Auto Train, I briefly consider travel to the one spot in Florida where the Auto Train goes. Car-less, of course. The car part is expensive. The seat, cheap. Which explains why I haven’t taken that train. One seat for so long? I’d need to spend every moment of a 12-hour or 72-hour ride in an observation car, I think. And no matter how good the view is, who wants to be the man hoarding the seat?
Anyway, Weaver. My favorite moment is when the Plains meet the West.
Kansas shares a border with Colorado. I never could have imagined that I would one day say this, and I know many people will be disconcerted by the statement. They will wonder if, this whole time, they have been reading an avant-garde work of science fiction, or perhaps a Mad Lib. “Is magical realism always this scary?” they will ask themselves. Some will claim I am lying. Many will assume I am wrong, demented or a clumsy typist.
To all of whom I respond: The truth of our nation’s internal demarcations is stranger than fiction — stranger than even the kind of brilliant avant-garde science fiction I am most likely capable of producing yet choose not to. But the unvarnished fact is Colorado has to start somewhere, and for whatever reason, that’s inside Kansas.