Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Long Ride

The sun was shining right in my face as the blue line train sped toward Downtown.  I squinted against the glare off the train car window and tried to look past it, out toward the houses and buildings blurring by. I was comfortable in my seat. There were very few riders on the train car and I didn’t feel like the whole body of humanity was shoving their back-pack into my spleen. It was very quiet on the train.

This was the only odd part about it really; the impressive silence of the people on the train. Usually there’s at least one joker with their earphones in but playing their music so loud that every other person on the train can hear how much they enjoy STYX or whatever the kids are listening to these days. There weren’t even any loud talkers on their cell phones or people having very personal conversations about how much they enjoy their partner’s bloody menses.

The train chugged along, slowing down occasionally for some of the CTA crews performing their various and meaningless painting or standing around activities. I let my eyes scan each platform as the train slowly pulled into the stations. I was, of course, looking for the prettiest girl and hoped in my foolish heart that maybe she’d get on the train and sit next to me and we’d bumble our way into introductions and fall in love.

I think I’ve been that way for my entire life. I remember in grammar school, wishing so badly that the prettiest girl would sit next to me in church or on the school bus for a field trip or we’d be partnered for some thing. I remember idling hours spent daydreaming about the what if’s of the pretty girl and I. So even now in my late thirties I’m still hoping the prettiest girl on the train will sit next to me.

I did really look at their faces and their shapes. I did see some very impressive young women, but none of them got on my train car, or ever sat near me. I was left with the feeling of being alone in a crowd. I was just part of the giant machinery of the daily grind with no ultimate purpose or real destination. Sure I was going to work, to add to the collective worth of the world as a contributor of… whatever it is that I do.

The train ride is long now as I work much further than I used to. It’s almost a 40 minute ride and there’s just too much time to think about things. I couldn't find a newspaper to read as all the newspaper boxes near my home and the train station were empty. I won’t take my cell phone out on public transportation as a safety concern. So I have to sit, hands folded in my lap with an aloof or vacant countenance. I don’t want to look too interested or too disconnected. It’s a fine line of emotional masquerading while riding public transportation.

The wheels and gears of my mind start turning and I am overwhelmed with too many thoughts, “What do I write about? I wonder how that girl I’m so still sweet on is doing today? I wonder if I’ll ever pay those bills? Will I ever get off my ass? That’s some very interesting graffiti. I wonder how they can get away with that? Ooh, she’s pretty. I bet she has like four cats though. How much money do I have? Did Einstein ever ride the train and consider the possibilities of the train moving faster than the speed of light? I wonder what I’ll have for lunch today. I’m hungry. I can’t believe how fast my shoes wore out. I hope work is easy today. It’s always easy”.

Eventually my train stop is announced and I have to prepare myself to return to the cold outside world. I continue to wonder about the world around me and my place in it as I adjust my scarf and put on my gloves. This was a very long train ride.  

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