#952: Her Eyes

July 11th, 2018

We usually part in the morning. She leaves me behind before dawn’s crack during the school year. I let her go as the sun beats overhead when summer break starts.

No matter who leaves first, mornings are the time my wife and I say goodbye, chat about dinner and become our own selves for the day.

This week, though, she has business downtown. So I have company along my morning commute, the ‘L’ path among trees and towers. We rode the train together. My train. And I wonder if she saw.

Instead of the nice, fast transfer off the Brown to Red, which rumblerockets me through lightless tunnels for a ride that’s both efficient and crowded to the point of horrible, I talked her into the better ride. The Brown Line ride that stays in light and air the whole time and where, if I’m lucky, I can get a solo seat and laze out the window as the train takes me not quite but close to exactly the most inconvenient way to access my office.

I wonder if she saw what I see.

My wife’s morning route is one of cars, of sitting alone and collecting her thoughts and playing the songs she likes over the ones I talk her into. It’s her time, her alone and special moments before students and that husband of hers take over her day.

I launch into chaos and noise, bustling city workers and late-sleeping homeless men and women roused by the new crowd on their route. I launch into light and sound and, too often, smell. It excites and energizes me. She relaxes and uncoils into the morning. I, often unwillingly if the bed is warm and the train is piss-smelling, run and dive right in.

I wonder what she sees through those eyes. I wonder if she sees inconvenience where I see energy. I wonder if the approach to downtown gives her the shivers it gives me or a “Here we go again” of jostling crowds of glowering office drones.

She wonders if I would be bored on her car ride. She sees her morning as solitude; I see it as solitary confinement. I wonder what her eyes see.

She asks about a few parks and buildings she’s not noticed before. I tell her what I know, but my majority claim is that I’ve asked myself the same “What is that?” more often on more sloughs south than she has. I don’t know who maintains that garden as the Brown Line makes that aching turn by North. I think this building she mentioned is a restaurant, but the train moved past before I could see which one she meant.

We usually part in the morning, but this one we shared. Odd and beautiful, we held hands and wondered what the other saw.

Listen to a transit duet

And a Christmas wish from street musicians

Play the CTA simulator

South Side hats

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You are currently reading #952: Her Eyes by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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