The Railway Notebook: Houston to Los Angeles

1. Smoking a cigarette outside the Houston station, underneath canopies of freeways, the mighty skyscrapers of downtown remind me of mountain ranges. They loom over me like the ghosts of ancestors seeing me off on my sojourn. 


2. Leaving means forgetting (or at least temporary memory loss).


3. I wonder if some of our atoms stay in the places we've been.

4. Love is more palpable when there is a longing for someone. When you're in the presence of that person, you're simply in that state of being. When they are away, you truly learn what love is. Love lives in absence. 


5. Staying in motion is easier than staying still.


6. There was a time when I never left my room. I would just lock myself up in the "dungeon" and create things (e.g. writings, paintings, music, experimental self-portraiture, etc.). Now that I'm older and a bit (keyword: "bit") wiser, I know that you have to go out into the world and collect stimuli. You can't just create experiences in your internal world; you have to absorb the eclectic range of environments around you. 


7. There are so many mysteries hiding in the crevices, nooks & crannies in every inch of Earth that I hyperventilate knowing I'll never discover all of it. The best thing I can do is walk aimlessly and stumble upon these secrets and revelations. 


8. The further I am from my comfort zone, the closer I get to touching the truths in this world. 


9. I love pressure, tension, and do-or-die situations. Some of the greatest overachievers in history created their masterpieces or were at the peak of their potential during tumultuous times in their lives: Picasso lived in Nazi-occupied Paris and was trying to maintain a failing marriage (mostly due to his own demons); Einstein dealt with a bitter divorce, chaotic affairs with multiple women, and a mentally ill son; Muhammad Ali faced imprisonment for fighting against the draft, was politically active in a time when politics was an extreme sport even compared to today's climate, and was busy surviving punches from George Foreman; Jesus, the Buddha, Prophet Muhammad and Che Guevara all launched and spearheaded their own respective revolutions, which is about as high-pressure, burdensome and nervewracking as any sentient being can experience in this universe. 


10. I get sick of myself every other day. Sometimes I just want to escape this body, this brain, and start over from scratch with a new shell and new soul. I'm disgusted by who I am and what I've done so far with my life. This is what I thought about as I drank beer in the empty lounge car at 2 in the morning, my reflection flashing on the window every now and then. 

11. Three-hour layover in San Antonio from 11 PM to 2 AM. I met this dude at the Houston station. He was headed home to New Mexico, but is planning to move to Baytown where his parents now live. One of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. It's funny because we looked like Mexican gangbangers with all our tattoos, but we were the chillest people on the train. It was his first time in San Antonio, so we walked around and I showed him the Riverwalk. We found a bar halfway down the street from the Amtrak station and got some drinks to kill time. While smoking cigarettes out on the front porch of the bar, this funny ass dude just joined us. It was like drinking with the kuyas (Tagalog word for "older brother") . I don't know what we talked about because I got drunk, but I do remember that it was the funniest and most insightful conversation I've had in a while.

12. At the El Paso station, there's a Mexican lady at the front of the door of the back entry who sells amazing homemade burritos for $2. She's a legend among passengers. 


13. Solitude is a necessary part of survival in this day & age.


14. Arizona sunsets are one of the most beautiful things you could possibly witness on this planet.


15. The world looks dreamier the faster you go.


16. On a train, especially during a long journey, you get back to a rhythm of life we lost in the 21st century. There are times and places when you have no cellular signal or internet connection, and you remember how good it feels to bond with people you've never met before and will never see again. You remember what it's like to be a human being. You mark the passage of time with each sunrise and sunset instead of deadlines and schedules. 


17. I arrived in Los Angeles an hour before sunrise. I had been on the phone with Daphne in the lounge car as the train entered the city. Sometimes my life feels like a novel or indie film.


18. One day, I will still my mind and relax my body. Today is not that day.