Taking A Break
As I write this, the sun is setting over Roswell, New Mexico.
I am sitting cross legged on the bed in our hotel room and
enjoying the fact I am far away from my normal life. I may
or may not ever get back to Roswell but its been worth
I am on the first vacation I have taken since I launched
Intermat four and half years ago. Sometimes we would go up
to the Cottage when Tripp had time off but I rarely got too
far from the computer, telephone and all the other ways we
electronically tether ourselves to the world.
We planned this journey six months ago. I had always wanted
to take a cross country rail journey; Kevin Malone, son of
my oldest friend in the world, now a college sophomore asked
us to come visit him and his parents on his spring break in
So we booked a compartment on Amtrak and left New York last
Saturday by train, snuggled, literally, into a bedroom compartment
and from the vantage of its large windows, watched America
roll by. From New York to Lamy, NM with a train change in
The journey reminded me, once again, of the importance of
having time to think, ponder, ruminate, philosophize. As we
went across the country, gazing out the windows, I was staggered
by the number of rusting cars that line the tracks, and the
amount of dilapidated homes that are rotting alongside those
same tracks. This is the America I dont generally see
and it was good to see it, to remind myself that it was there.
America is much more complex than what we generally see on
television, more economically fragmented than we realize and
more deprived in some areas than we acknowledge.
Sharing the dinner table with strangers was illuminating.
One was a train junkie who trained whenever he could find
a reason to do it. Another was a gentleman who was too afraid
to climb aboard a plane [a psychological victim of 9/11];
another was a lady who did not explain why she could not fly.
One of the interesting and troubling things
I have discovered on this journey is how gingerly, carefully,
tentatively people enter into a conversation regarding politics.
It reminded me we are deeply divided in our political views
and the tension is palpable as we begin to broach the subject
with people we do not know and whose views are unfamiliar
At a dinner once we reached Albuquerque, the state of the
nation became a subject of conversation and then it
stopped until the host determined our political leanings,
determined to prevent a pleasant evening from degenerating
bitterly. A sigh of relief could be felt as it was determined
we were all pretty much of the same mind.
We drove down to Roswell, determined to see the source of
hundreds of hours of television devoted to events here in
early July, 1947. Did or did not aliens crash here? Were we
or were we not deceived by our government? Roswell, along
with Hitler and World War II, helped build more than one cable
network during the 1980s and 1990s. ABC caught
onto the trend recently with a two hour special, hosted by
Peter Jennings, devoted to UFOs.
My image of Roswell as we were driving toward it was that
would be like the towns we passed, grim and dusty, tattered
and wind blown. Instead, its the boomingest place around.
Between aliens and the Air Force, it seems to be doing pretty
damn well. Main Street is a mix of contemporary buildings
and well maintained older ones. Now may be its bad in
the burbs but I havent seen that
Roswell stands at the center of an American story, true or
not. I am very glad I came to see it and in the seeing, stepped
out of my ordinary life for a few days, changed the pace,
the locale, the rhythm, glad I cut down the number of calls
I HAD to make, glad I am taking a breath