Monday, July 7, 2014

The High Speed Line

Broad Street: 1909
I used to take the train from the station right across from my parents' house, into Camden, to Rutgers, where I was studying literature and creative writing during both my undergrad and graduate years. I would stand on the platform and I could always see our house -- the one I grew up in -- looking benignly back at me with its friendly window eyes. Our familiar family cars would sleep, then, in the driveway, like curled up cats. Maybe corny; definitely true.

Today, I stood on that platform again. This time, I had left from my own house, some distance away. This time, the windows of my old house looked different and they looked differently -- the old friendly eyes had been changed out for new, more angular, more slick and glassy ones. And the new cars of the strangers who walk through my old bedroom; my old living room; my old kitchen...these new cars, they stand on tiptoe on hard tires on the newly blackened drive -- new cats, ready to spring.

Today, I was boarding the same train, but all the way into Philadelphia, not to study writing, but to teach it, in a building in the shadow of William Penn, to young writers who took the train as I had so long ago: to learn.

Still: I teach; they learn; I teach; I learn; they teach, I learn -- and the train runs over the same rails it ran over decades ago, carrying passengers with big dreams into big cities including one who never outgrew big dreaming.