Food for the Journey

March 5th, 2018

Senji insisted on sending me home with a lunch…and a dinner…and a breakfast for the next morning. I had a ticket on Amtrak’s “Empire Builder” train that rolls on the rails from Seattle to Milwaukee. It takes about forty-two hours to make the journey. Amtrak offers food and beverages, but at a premium price. I can’t complain about the quality of the meals. They are good. It’s just that they are expensive.

Senji is a veteran of the Empire Builder. He wanted to make sure that I brought enough provisions along with me. I didn’t feel like he needed to do that, but he was adamant. He started by putting together a to-go box with rice and some leftovers in it. Then he packed up some mixed fruit from breakfast. He added a package of mini-muffins. Then he decided to boil four eggs. All these things went into a red cloth shopping bag.

I wasn’t particularly keen on carrying along a massive meal bag. I already had two other carry on bags and a sleeping bag to drag with me to the train station. Also, at Senji’s temple, and during the Longest Walk, all I seemed to do was eat. Just before Senji took me to the ferry, he fixed me a huge plate of spaghetti. That was on top of a rather hefty breakfast he had served to Makyo and myself earlier in the day. I had already purchased some fruit to take with me, so Senji’s efforts seemed a bit too much.

On the way to the ferry that would take me from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, Senji and I stopped to visit Ben and his father, Denny. Ben inisited on giving me a cherry-filled chocolate bar from a local confectionary. That went into the red bag with the other food. We only stayed with Ben and Denny for a few minutes. Then Senji dropped me off at the ferry terminal, and I rode it across Puget Sound.

Seattle has a large homeless population. The city has a mild climate, and the inhabitants tend be tolerant of the street people. I had to walk past a number of them as I trudged from the ferry terminal on Pier 52 to the train station on King Street.

I had gone a couple blocks down Marion Street when I saw a young man lying on the pavement. He was wrapped in his sleeping bag, with his back propped up against the wall of a brick building. He had that lost look, bleary-eyed and unkempt. I paused and stood in front of him.

I asked him, “Are you hungry?”

“Well, yeah man…”

I set the bag of food next to him on the sidewalk.

“This is yours.”

I walked on.

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