I ride the Regional Rail to work and back again, from outside to in, Center City to Marcus Hook, where the oil refinery shoots plumes of orange flame and the ladies at the diner call me hon. I watch the signs – Eddystone, Crum Lyn, “The Gas Light”. A worn billboard, paint curled, letters faded, stands tall midway. I can just make out the hopeful plug:
“Visit our suburban city, and see what’s new in Glenolden!”
The first time I saw it, I laughed. But the joke is too old, and too sad to be funny. The lost luster of the suburban dream reminds me that I am not as young as I used to be.
I ride the Regional Rail from my hometown, seeing it with my 36 years old, consciousness-raised, social-science eyes. The Chester Transportation Center speaks its truth to me. Promises broken, people unmade, climbing too many stairs just to wait for a train to somewhere else. University City still ten stops away.
I ride the Regional Rail to work, from outside to in, Marcus Hook to Center City, where the fountain at LOVE park shoots plumes of purple water and the lady at the chinese food truck knows I need more hot sauce. The sky scrapers rise up, the murals sing praise songs, and I am young once again. My pulse quickens with the beating heart of the city until it’s time to ride the Rail again.