I’ve never ridden a proper train before. Not like most people have used trains throughout their existence— going from city to city. The first train I’d ever ridden, at least that I can remember, was the El train from Evanston, Illinois to downtown Chicago. In my birthplace of Owosso, Michigan they keep the steam engine that the train in the animated movie The Polar Express was modeled after. I remember my family watching this movie at an IMAX theater in Lansing then taking the train to a winter themed carnival in a field somewhere. My favorite train that I’ve ridden is the WES commuter rail between Beaverton and Tualatin, Oregon. This pudgy little train carries its occupants in comfortable seats, listening to its soft whistles and the heavy rumble of its diesel engines, with a soothing female voice announcing the stops, “Hall, Nimbus. Doors to my left” as it bounces through sopping woods and over deep, emerald rivers.
The mass transit system of the Portland metro was essentially my home for about eight months. I’d ride it from neighborhood to neighborhood, sleeping, drinking, and listening to comedy podcasts. I would daydream of getting a job and saving for a van or something to keep me comfortable and safe at night, to wake up and sip a fresh pot of coffee while cooking eggs over a propane stove, cruise through the Rocky Mountains, and grill fresh fish next to a roiling river.