Laura Fisher Abstract Landscape Paintings

News & Ideas

The Daddy Train

I love to ride trains. When I was little and living in the suburbs of Chicago, there were two kinds: the CTA "L" trains, and the commuter trains run by CNW (now Metra).

The CTA system didn't go all the way out to my neighborhood - you had had to take a bus to the Howard station and go from there. But I loved the journey - looking at all the back porches from above ground, then the mechanical darkness underground, and finally the magical sensation of climbing out of the station and suddenly being surrounded by tall buildings. I always felt like Dorothy landing in Oz.

The CNW commuter train line went right through the burbs I lived in. I remember less about riding them than I do about seeing them go through town. There was a schedule, and I knew the rhythm of it, if not the exact times. At the stations, there were always men in business suits (this was well before workplace casual). There were probably women, too, of course, but the picture in my memory is a sea of men - or more specifically to my wee little girl self: _daddies_ - going to or coming home from work. The wonderful daddy train.

Here in Los Angeles, in addition to still being excited every time I see the mountains at the end of the street, I remain excited to ride the trains. I still love that feeling of popping up suddenly in world completely unlike the one you boarded the train from. There are a couple stops I like especially for that sensation - the Westlake/MacArthur Park station is particularly transportative.

LA has trains like the CNW, too - it's the Metrolink system, and the mister has recently discovered that it's a reasonable alternative to the Metro when he has to go out to Glendale and Burbank, depending on the time of day. Lately when he's muttering about planning this trip or that, I've been asking him if he's going to take the daddy train. I suppose I could call it properly by "Metrolink", or say "the big train", or use the line designation (Antelope Valley or Ventura County, often), but "daddy train" carries so much more delight.

There is part of me that wants to take the subway over to Union Station and meet him on the platform when he comes home on the daddy train. Meeting people - especially beloved people - at train stations is one of my most treasured things to do. It's so immediate, with none of the airport's current "security" silliness: seeing (and hearing and feeling) the train arrive, searching through the ensuing crowd for that face you want to see, and seeing the smile that makes the rest of the world disappear when your eyes meet. So many happy reunions, so many tearful goodbyes - train stations must be full of so much residual human emotion. Maybe that's why they're so magical.

Category: Ideas

Leave a comment