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Old Trains in Old Sac

Sacramento, Calif.
March 29, 2003

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One time, years ago, we struggled for a year and a half to save up $6,000 so we could flee the country and wander the tourist trail in Europe for three months. If we could have looked into the future then, seen ourselves sitting on the equity that buying a home in Sonoma County grants to the fortunate and the foolish, and taking only two-week vacations, we would have mugged our future selves.

Years later now, our future selves sat there in the fading afternoon sun in west-facing windows at California Fats laughing about it. While the reasons we take two-week vacations sat in the table next to us, slurping their Shirley Temples. I took out a pen and, while slurping chow mein noodles, played with the numbers on the back of a flyer after capital gains tax and an up-front payment on a storage unit ... three years if it's Spain ... five years or better in Turkey...

Way before that, way back in the late '70s, up at a Key Club convention during high school, somewhere in the outskirts of Sacramento, Jeff Pugh and I, hungry late at night, we could see the lights of a rural hamburger stand a mile or so away, across a field. We followed a pair of railroad tracks across that foggy field. It felt like we were out in Kansas, out in the strange rural darkness, away from the safe amber glow of our suburban skies. That was another conversation about wanting to see the world: driving trucks, or on ships, or riding the rails. It was all ahead of us then -- and may yet be. That field is probably the parking lot of a Costco now. Jeez, the '70s look like the '50s from where we are now.

But look at that daughter on a balance beam! (Check out the rollover!)