The midnight train – a romantic journeys to Kansas

September 10, 2013.
I depart Chicago via Amtrak train 3 p.m. next  Thursday and arrive to Lawrence Kansas around midnight. A nine-hour passage takes me from one city to the other. One chapter of my life will close and another will begin. There will be a fade-out and a fade-in, and perhaps an epiphany.

My boarding the train begins the maiden voyage of the “Writer in Residence” expedition. I am leaving the Windy City and simplifying my endeavors to two foci —  travel and writing. I will sojourn in Kansas for over two months to work on books slated to be published to Kindle, and to present a travelogue. This because I find travel overwhelmingly inspiring and will feel compelled to not only write my stories, but also to share experiences discovering new places and people.

Preparing to simplify is a mammoth endeavor.  I sort through all my belongings and am amazed at the amount of furniture, household items and things I possess  Now I must decide what to take with me. My notebook computer, but of course. I call it “Mr. Crimson” as ’tis a shiny red. Blank books and my favorite pens and stationery. Pretty dresses and comfy “home office” attire. A wine key that folks from Bergerac Tourism gave me and the engraved “Bergerac” wine glass. The Bergerac folks are romantic, and might host my visiting their area of France.

What else will I choose to take with me as I sojourn to write in new places? I know that as much as I’ll attempt to contain it, the list will grow.

Because I’m emotional. It will not be so much the creature comforts I will want to take, yet the emotional comforts. Like the Bergerac souvenir wine glass and wine key.  Maybe that’s enough. That and Mr. Crimson and my blank books and pens. O yes, jot note: need to take a picture of my beau for screensaver,  to replace a photo I’d taken of a pink rose while holding it in front of Lake Michigan.

There will be other things, like the Roget’s Thesaurus my parents gave me for Christmas back when I was a kid and expressing how much I loved words and loved to write. It still kicks ass over online thesauri.

So I need to tame that list of things to take. And tend to things I won’t bring — which to sell, which to give away, and which to lend in hopes I might collect them again.

All that needs to be swept beneath my 3-inch heels by 3 p.m. that day,  or packed tightly in travel bags.  The conductor will lift the heavy ones aboard and I shall grasp the lighter ones with gloved hands. That seems so clean and ladylike. When en route, I might use the gloved fingertips to tap away tears.

Tears of transition as I feel the train speed along the tracks beneath. Yet the prelude is most delicate. So much will be happening. I know myself  to know I will stay up all night before while tying final strings of things to leave behind, while packing things I feel I cannot do without.

I would love to organize a send-off party, with a small group of folks, ones who have been so dear to me, for a bon voyage toast. That small group becomes larger the more I think about the folks I’d invite. However, organizing that toast would be a luxury I don’t have while preparing for this transition. So I let go visions of raising a glass with them, and watch them fade into a heartfelt farewell. My farewell whisper to them.

My farewell whisper to Chicago as I board the Southwest Chief , and anticipate a hello to Lawrence.  Jay Wachs, General Manager at, tells me Lawrence was burned down twice and rebuilt. Hmm, I think. Chicago burned down once and was rebuilt, and the city still beats with that pride. Lawrence, a smaller city, has that pride twice over.  I feel intrigued to learn more. And to discover what awaits me there.

I live life by the moment. It has been my strength and my weakness. Yet mostly my strength as ’tis the best contributor to my being a writer who bleeds on paper and a romantic who savors.

The deadline is September 19th, to simplify my life. I will board a nine-hour journey, from one chapter to the next, and share some of it by  tapping at Mr. Crimson along the way, or taking pen to paper, or meeting folks who are also in transit.

Around midnight I will  arrive on the Lawrence Kansas platform. This romantic has a new frontier to explore.

More details:
— Jacquée T.’s “Vignette” weblog post  “Lipstick and Pen” regarding choosing her travel dress and anticipating the train travel.
— The Circle S Ranch and Country Inn is an esteemed  Jacquée T. “Writer in Residence” host. Find more information via the A Romantic’s Perspective. com Travel Section “Love Circle S Ranch in Lawrence Kansas.


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