Yesterday my husband and I took the train down to Portland -- something I've wanted to do for several years now -- and drove back the elderly VW van my daughter and her boyfriend borrowed to take all their stuff off to school.
The ride down was almost all I'd hoped it would be -- the only thing missing was lunch in the dining car, which didn't happen because by the time they got to our car the only lunch reservations left would have happened after we had gotten off the train. But the seats were comfy and the views were fun; we watched the views, dozed, and read, and I shot lots of photos of the greenery speeding by.
The visit with our daughter, though brief, was full of love and joy, and our other daughter happened to call while we were there so we did a family hug with the cell on speakerphone in the middle. We were able to drop off all of the things our daughter had left behind -- mostly bedding -- and then we were off again.
The ride back was pretty silly: it was unbearably hot -- for me, anyway; high 80's -- and the van has no air conditioning and no windows other than the two on the front seat. Elderly VW, road trip, Bob Marley blaring -- it was something straight out of the 70's. So I asked my husband if he ever thought -- back in the 70's before he knew me -- he'd find himself enjoying one of these rides with an almost 60-year-old woman. He just grinned, but the grin was pretty huge.
When he came in to say goodbye this morning -- they moved his office yesterday, so he's heading in to unpack -- I mentioned I was writing about the road trip. "Why?" he asked. "We didn't even do anything. We didn't even TALK!" The train space had felt like the quiet room upstairs on the ferry, so we had just sat and read and looked out the windows. And the ride back had been so noisy, between the open windows, the fans, and the music, that I couldn't even hear the cellphone when our daughter called to see how the trip was going.
Yes, it would have been nice to be able to talk -- even after 24 years of marriage we never seem to run out of things to say to one another. But it was also nice just being together, doing something different, sharing the sweetness of the day.
Afterwards I went through all the photos I shot from the train, and most of them would have been a waste of film (thank God for digital!). There were a few good ones of bridges, but my favorite from the trip is this one, shot from the car on the way home.
Like the trip, it's pretty ordinary, just the back of a truck. But, also like the trip, there's a warmth to it, and color, and lots of opportunity for quiet reflections. And it seems to me that any day -- or photo -- that offers all that is, well, just about perfect.