Hard Transit

Hard Transit

My grandfather and his two teenaged daughters
drove a wagon to Dakota to claim a homestead.
I never asked how many weeks they traveled, or the hardships that they faced.
The young don’t know what answers they will wish for when it’s too late;
so only imagination serves to describe the heat,
day after day with no water except for what they carried,
coyotes, gray wolves and the glaring sun of the treeless prairie.
My aunts were just young girls dealing with the difficulties young girls face
in the sparsest of conditions. No mother. No water.
The jarring ride—grasshoppers so thick the wagons skidded off the tracks,
and that loneliness of riding into
the emptiness of a strange world.

Now, I stand impatiently at the immigration window,
then the ticket line and the security line.
I empty pockets, discard water bottle,
remove computers from their cases, take off shoes,
raise my arms for the check,
struggle up the escalator with bag and purse,
find the right gate,
negotiate the walkway to the plane,
lift the heavy carry-on and lower myself into the too-small seat.
“Plane travel isn’t what it used to be,” my neighbor says,
and we console each other about how hard it is.
“Nine hours from Guadalajara to St. Louis—
a plane change and a three-hour layover in Atlanta,”
I grumble, and he sympathizes.

The Prompt: In Transit—Train stations, airport terminals, subway stops: soulless spaces full of distracted, stressed zombies, or magical sets for fleeting, interlocking human stories?

10 thoughts on “Hard Transit

    1. lifelessons Post author

      P.S., Susan. If you do print it, please do the final draft, which I updated a few hours ago. I noticed several problems and repetitions. I usually edit posts several times during the day as they are written on the fly in the morning. As the day progresses, so does my distance from what I’ve written, so I am functioning more and more as an editor and less as the original writer !! Thanks again, Judy

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  1. lifelessons Post author

    Thanks, Susan. I had too much on my plate today and didn’t have much time to work on it, so it is reassuring that someone liked it and I appreciate your taking the time to tell me. I love your name! —Judy

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  2. mandy

    Oh Judy, you underestimate your talent to write on the fly! This was wonderful. Maybe it’s the Montana girl in me. I read all of the Wagons West series–maybe 67 or more of the thick novels of wagons traveling to the promised land. I love these stories. And I love the second part, too. My how things have changed!

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      You are too kind, Mandy. This post a day has become a bit of a compulsion to me and so many times what I do is post asap and then come back at various times of the day to edit. If you read this earlier today there may be a later version. I heard of a famous painter whom they banned from museums because he’d sneak in and alter his paintings! That’s me. I really appreciate your kind comments! Judy

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  3. Allenda Moriarty

    I used to fantasize about traveling in a covered wagon across the prairies. My vision included butter being churned by the rough ride, followed by popcorn popped over the campfire at night and topped with melted butter. Westward ho!

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Um, Allenda, does your comment have anything to do with your liquid diet regime? I must say popcorn is about the last image I have when I consider a trip via covered wagon! (Most of mine have to do with the scarcity of ladies rooms.) Judy

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  4. Martha Kennedy

    I’ve thought of that lately. Some of my ancestor’s relatives (like many of our ancestor’s relatives) came over from “the old country” in the 18th century. Five boarded the ship, two disembarked… And I bitch because I have to DRIVE an HOUR to the nearest AIRPORT which is 50 miles from where I’m staying — that’s what, four days by wagon?

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      I know, Martha. I’ve thought of this so many times when I complain about the rigors of travel. Wish I’d done more justice to the topic. Perhaps I’ll feel more inspired another time. I did talk to one aunt about this a bit a few months before her death and somewhere I have a record of her life during that time, but much I just have to try to channel via imagination. There is a book, “Women’s Journals of the Westward Journey” that I read in college that I would love to read again. It was wonderful. Judy

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  5. Pingback: Transiting | It's Mayur Remember?

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