station platform nervosa

Adam rode the train by himself tonight, for the first darn time. The intrepid journey into metropolis was to join his mother for a high falutin’ dinner to chat about important stuff (like who keeps stealing his lunch at school) and then “catch” a show at the Fifth Avenue Theatre. Oliver Fern and I walked with him into the Capitol Hill station and after waving his transit pass in front of the electronic card reader which emits a grating electronic blip that tells you to hurry already, he dismissively (quite unceremoniously, if I should say so) waved us off goodbye or something like it while commencing the descent atop the escalator which goes down very, very far into a mighty cavernous hole that was dug impressively deep (deeper than most, apparently).  Down on the subterranean, windy platform waiting for just about forever into the future because the dadblasted train got broken down someplace else, he found himself confronted by half a dozen concerned, well-meaning bystanders (including the transit police) who couldn’t comprehend how in the world anyone under thirty years of age let alone an eleven year old could possibly venture into the city without a telephone surgically implanted to their head.  The breathless recounting tonight about this Big Train Station To-Do unnerved me far more than him because you get lumpy-throated when it comes to your babies. The plan was fairly failure-safe with his mother on the platform just a couple stops down the line waiting to receive him and don’t accept candy or video games, kick the creep nice and hard in the acorns, gouge the eyeballs, scream as loudly as you can, most of all watch out for “nice” people but never mind.  Sure I was wracked with parental guilt until the eagle landed but Adam was passing the threshold to Pluto, for Pete’s sake.  And after all, Seattle’s no Thunderdome plus he’s well aware two out of every three grownups are useless, he can handle himself.

postscript: This is a sliced-and-diced excerpt from a December draft (still that doggone first week). I’ve been stuck. Everything I write has been sounding like prototypical pseudo-pretentious bloggy-woggy horseshit. Well, the usual problems with coherence are cropping up, too. Oh bother, Ill get there!  Winter break is over. Grandma left town by jet airplane back to the Windy City, yesterday. As you can imagine, this has the boys in more of a funk than homework.  It’ll certainly be quieter around here. Much of my discretionary time continues to be occupied by the in-depth study of that wonder and mystery called the tides you see having had in my possession for some time a trio of fascinating books on the subject that were waiting to be dusted off and finally one day several weeks ago when the boys, grandmother and I explored about sunny Lincoln Park in faraway West Seattle for the occasion of observing the impressive king tides, it dawned upon me a rearranging of the queue was in order and so I’ve been happily transported lately to places like the Bay of Fundy, Mont Saint Michel, the Qiantang or weathered pages of my old tide tables for different points around the Whulge.  A couple of the books had been languishing atop that little three drawer pullout I refashioned (utilizing my orbital saw, a sander thingy and another cutter thingy) from the arts-and-crafty desk the neighbors left sitting on the sidewalk last winter. It’s the conundrum of the generalist in that I’ve wanted to dive into them the worst way but needed the right window.

8 thoughts on “station platform nervosa

  1. Wow, what a blast, I don’t know anything about the ocean/tides but really enjoyed being swept along, let the current rip, commas be damned, cast them to the winds, tides, whatever. My mom always mentioned 6th grade as the point when she and a friend started taking the Long Island RR into the city to see a matinee, and cellphones didn’t exist, I guess she could’ve found a Western Union and telegraphed home in a pinch.
    I think the king tides on Lake Michigan can hit almost two inches, but I have a cousin in Maine, and she’s talked about New Brunswick’s big show tidal bores, etc.

    • For years I’ve looked forward to exploring Novia Scotia, New Brunswick (never realized some of the biggest tides in the world are there) and going down the eastern seaboard. Thanks for sharing the anecdote about your mom, Robert. That’s neat (it’s also reassuring). Golly, a dyed in the wool Long Islander lived across the street from us for a few years although he was more of a recovering Manhattanite by the time he reached Seattle. I thoroughly enjoyed standing on the sidewalk in the front of his house with him while he overwatered his lawn by hand and regaled me with nonstop New York City stories (he liked switching the topic to Maine if his agitation rose talking about NYC). The past few years he and I’ve kept meaning to join up for coffee but never do. His wife had terrible adjustment issues to Seattle those first few years of their arrival (too slow) and she forced them to move closer to the train station up on the top of the hill.

      You didn’t grow up on Long Island, did you? Upstate New York isn’t exactly accurate either, is it?

      • I grew up in central NY, and just relocated to Milwaukee. I’d been here a few years ago, right after college, working in a high school for City Year, and now I work in an office at the UofW/Milwaukee. I like it here.
        My mother left LI & moved upstate years ago, and my dad has always lived there, I guess since the last glacier retreated and created the Finger Lakes. Mom’s parents followed her here when they retired, and lived down the street from her office, and my grandfather was a proud child of the Bronx and loved working in Manhattan, on Lexington Ave for many years. But the grandfolks also loved this area. I still have a lot of uncles/aunts/etc. in NYC, and grew up with the pokes, hugs, hands going, agitated 4- or 5-way conversations and general hysteria, I’ve always loved their talks, rants, editorials, etc. and every trip to the store for a quart of milk, produces a new tale. I’ve tried to write a few times that way, the way they talk, but it always generates worry and concern, and “did you adjust your meds recently” kind of inquiries.
        I still have some Upstate pieces aging in the cellar, maybe some of them are sprouting by now, and maybe time to rename/reframe this column.
        Yeah, I am dying to get to Nova Scotia, Gaspé penninsula, maybe those little islands off there somewhere, that still belong to France. As long as it doesn’t involve a boat, I’m gung ho.

  2. Congrats to Adam. I can imagine your angst. I’ll bet he was excited and scared simultaneously. Can’t you just remember those first few freedom flights–like the first night your parents let you stay out after dark and the like? It’s a heady feeling. And a little frightening too.
    Good to hear from you TF. Hope you all had a great holiday and that your New Year is one of adventure, be it on trains, mountain trails, long drives, ferries or between the pages of a book.

    • The way you describe the beginnings of that freedom is so apropos (“a heady feeling”), Ilona. You could just see him walking on air. It gave me goosebumps. It’s particularly startling (scary) and electric for me to see him go out of the nest- I was a country bumpkin hiding out in the hayloft, swinging from the rafters chasing feral barn-cats for excitement when I was his age. It’s good to hear from you, too.

  3. Jason: Interesting to me because I descend into that subterranean world a couple of times each week and, if I’m down there long enough, my mind wanders to thoughts like earthquakes post-apocalypse films like Escape From New York. But your post also reminded me of a conversation that I had recently with friends who grew up in cities. We recalled the freedom we had to explore our worlds alone using transit and bikes as kids–and how we felt it taught us to be independent. I commend you for giving your kids the chance grow and explore.

    We checked out the king tides as well. Awesome!

  4. I can’t begin to imagine the “platform nervosa” I would feel the first time I put a young un’ on the train by himself, even if there was a trusted adult waiting just a couple of stations away. But kudos to Adam for taking all of the unexpected festivities in stride! Clearly, you and his mother prepared him well for his maiden (pardon the expression) voyage. As for your in-depth study of the tides: I expect many good insights and revelations will come of this, for it is one of the most beautiful and mysterious natural phenomena that no one thinks about, except maybe for the dozen or so tourists each year who try to outrun the water that rushes toward Mont St. Michel at the speed of a galloping horse, only to find themselves clinging to a craggy outcrop like a shipwrecked rat. Oh! And when you have time I *do* want to see a photo of the thing you refurbished with your orbital saw, a sander thingy, and another cutter thingy. 🙂

    • It would be a point of perhaps misplaced pride for me to share a glimpse of that reclaimed treasure but since you asked, stay tuned and I’ll happily work it in somehow one of these days soon. Thanks for stopping by to read, Heide. It’s always wonderful to hear from you.

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