seeing as how I linked to that Chicago stuff on Monday.
I don’t ride the El much now but I’ve been riding it for as long as I can remember. I can recall one train ride that sticks in my head as being a definitive First Time memory, but it couldn’t have been my first ride; it’s probably a composite of all the times my grandmother took me shopping on State Street. We took the Congress line in, the line that runs along the expressway; we’d go on a bridge and through a turnstile and down a long, long ramp. Standing on the platform in the middle of the expressway was like standing on the deck of a huge ship; there was wind and a quiet that seemed to flap open and shut with the surges of traffic.
When a train would come it never looked like the concept of train I was taught: no engine, no caboose. There was nothing that indicated which direction it would go in. I had to trust my grandma knew the hell what she was doing. She did.
I would sit near the window. One time I rested my head against it and pressed my face to the glass. “Don’t do that,” my grandma said. “You don’t know what someone’s done on that window. Someone could have spat on it…. someone could have thrown up on it.” This really made no sense to me. It was a window. I spent the rest of the ride staring at the glass and trying to figure out how you could look at it without looking through.