Thursday, March 02, 2006

Driven by a Dallas morning

It's not hard to get addicted to public transportation, which is one reason I am somewhat apprehensive about moving to an area of Dallas that is not accessible by rail. Boarding a train, unhindered by other drivers, coasting down the silky metal tracks, barreling through tunnels and finally arriving just a stones-throw from the office is like a drug coursing through my veins. It's so soothing to know that I am not at the whim of other drivers, and that my transportation has a schedule free from highway gridlock. It's mass transit freedom; it's bliss.

With my creamy cup of Cafe DuMonde doused with hazelnut creme I jogged from the bus stop to the platform and climbed into the train car and took my seat next to an Indian woman sheathed in an emerald trenchcoat, clutching a local tabloid daily. I settled in and opened Collected Stories of Carson McCullers. We glided through the city under the cloud-dappled morning sky clad with sky scrapers and a horizon cut with highways. People, buildings filling with workers and streets supporting cars and hurried drivers -- everyone had a destination, and by 10 a.m., the downtown thoroughfares are calm, the traffic has cleared and Dallas rests in a mid-morning lull.

There are so many sights from the window of a train car that I feel privy to the lives of a visually fascinating few. A woman walking to the West End in a sweater of a salmon shade and chinos with a delicate crease clutching a small leather bag and a panicked Siamese -- my imagination takes hold and to me she's cradling and cooing her sweet child that shares her lonely downtown abode. They're returning from a harrowing trip to the veterinarian and there's a cool can of tuna waiting for her spoiled companion. The Siamese is the only presence that assuages her loneliness. The Siamese is her defining grace, sharing her life and the remnants of her sanity, of her 30-something charm.

I hop off of the train, giddy from my fantasy, I wave to the conductor and he toots his horn. Skirting the platform as the train disembarks, my Dallas morning leaves port.


Olivia said...

Oh that's so nice; nowadays I lose those impressions before I can blog them but when I started it was easy.

Anyway, at least you don't have to go underground for your trains...

I visited the DART train stop in Plano a couple of years ago. (Ave K/15th St area)
Did you see the sleek tram system in Houston, around the Medical Center?

It's like the ones in Europe.

lunaliar said...

When I was working with the Rodeo in downtown Houston I rode the MetroRail every day from the medical center to Reliant Park. I loved it! It was my first urban rail experience, so when I found out that I could live close to rail in Dallas I was incredibly stoked. Then I discovered how dilapidated and unkempt the cars are. They look like yellow Gremlins on rails. UUUUUHHHHGLY!

Olivia said...

They are ugly, but I am surprised they are dilapidated. The Dallas light rail system is quite recent.

I hope Houston is able to expand its rail system more, it's such a booming city.

lunaliar said...

The system launched in 1996, but with annual ridership expansions and hardly any increase in the number of cars in rotation, they are showing so much wear.

I am with you on hoping Houston expands beyond the small part of downtown it serves. People would use it so much more if they would just increase the funding behind it. Rail in the South is still such a novelty.