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Location: Dallas, Texas

oh, I'm still making art in the urban forest

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Adventures in Public Transportation, part one

There's something intrinsically self-righteous about riding the train when you don't really have to. This attempt of mine to reduce, re-use and recycle. Make my global footprint smaller, as if that would somehow balance the weight I've gained. (For indeed my footprint is bigger - a whole size - I recently grew to size nine shoes. How does that happen? So I gained some weight, how does that make my foot LONGer?)

This week I've played Good Samaritan Car Loaner to the woman down the street, a single mom of a 17-year old and a second surprise - for I think she must be around 40 - a toddler with intense behavioral issues that warn of a troubled future. She's 'in the industry' so we know some of the same people, understand our world of haves and have nots. I worry that she's going to be one drama after the next but I also think she knows I have limits, too. She calls or texts to say, I've arrived safely, I'm stopping at Target, do you need anything. She is trying hard and I respect that. I know that all I can do to change the world is make one random act of kindness per day. Thank you Anne Lamott.

But today I volunteer to take the train and let her have the Jeep all day; her over-sized over-used behemoth, remnant from another life, a parallel universe housing a man she hides from in this one, this ancient Cadillac sits crosswise against the painted lines in the Tom Thumb parking lot. Useless. One thing after another gone wrong. I want to tell her stories of my past so she'll understand she'll survive.

But. Back to the train. Typically, it takes me forever to get out of the house. I pick her up, we drive first toward a train station that I don't really know how to find, then we realize going to another train station is more logical, closer to the sitter who has patience with her little one, who will wait to be paid; another train station that she doesn't really know how to find either. But we find it together. She drives away and I suddenly realize I've just turned my car over to a stranger. We are bonded only in a three-week shared history of poverty, dangerous careers, and motherhood.

Down the longest escalator I've ever been on. Two stories, maybe three. A short walk, a turn and then another escalator down. I didn't know Dallas could GO this far down. Then suddenly I'm in a subway station. Too clean for New York but the feeling of New York, the feeling of subway, oh, the smell even, it's barely there but it is THERE. It is a sensation that I can taste. (right up there with my invented word: cheeseburgasm - for that two months I gave up meat and dairy...) I am smiling. This feels urban, this feels good.

It's after 11 and there's almost no one here, a couple of DART workers, people who wander up and down the platform like strays. A black girl saunters past in shorts and tank top and high heels I'd break my ankle in, a bespectacled man in short sleeves and an actual pocket protector, probably late like me. Strays. A gangly teenager with baggy pants, numbered shirt and dreads. Strays. We're all stray dogs here in the subway at 11 AM.

But it smells, faintly, of New York. I have a novel that my friend lent me, White Oleander, which I've not read, or seen the movie. Ever since I got cable I somehow stopped reading. Yet another reason to take the train. I am lost in this story of a sad young woman with a lousy childhood. Adjectives upon adverbs upon phrases upon metaphors. But it's a good read, and between observations of this world around me, I'm lost inside it and it makes me - FINALLY - want to say the words I'm saying now. I can't be Jane Fitch but I can make words that come out of me like rice and rainbows and vomit and thunder and it doesn't matter whether you like it or not. It's the Internet and all rules are reimagined, rethunk, remade, rear-ended.

I get on the blue train because two of the strays assure me it stops at Northwest Highway, where I'll catch the bus to travel the two short miles that will take the longest time of this expedition. Only the strays don't tell me the blue train is going northeast instead of northwest. I look out at the trees, suddenly transported from Astrid's's too green. I'm going the wrong way.

Stay tuned for part two


Blogger Rrramone said...

Cheeseburgasm?? You still got it baby!

16/9/08 6:07 PM  
Blogger pamdbigd said...

yeah, my boss convinced me I was killing myself with dairy and meat, so I actually tried to give them up for a couple months, ate WAY too much soy, got all emotional and over-estrogened, one day said F'it, and drove thru JitB and got a steak burger - figuring that would be healther than a HAMburger, right? And the first taste was just, just, just....well, I had a cheeseburgasm right there on Fort Worth Avenue.

17/9/08 7:19 AM  

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