Social Geography

Dear J-

Are we having a good morning yet? I believe we’re having a great one. Leaving the house in the dark and having faith this is the right way to go, soon enough we’ll be joined with the lights and action of the cities encountered heading south; in a typical day I pass through Burlingame, San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, Menlo Park, Atherton (no stops on weekdays), Palo Alto, Mountain View and Sunnyvale. It makes me feel like a world traveler even when I’m clearly not. And I still love the frisson of riding a train around because it’s clearly the right way to get to where I need to go, so many times. Now I just need to find a way to get the family as enthusiastic about transit …

When we lived in Cheney, Bus 8 was our lifeline to and from the store before we had driver’s licenses; I always favored the seat immediately after the aft door and by that time the Spokane Transit Authority was shifting to the RTS III series, although there were still a handful of the older buses (as seen in Benny and Joon) with slanted windows which we used to call the muscle buses for the way the drivers would hustle them out of corners and the almost decadent plushness of the seats. Occasionally I’d stop by Zip’s on the way home, if I knew it was going to be a late night and I couldn’t find anything in the fridge to make a meal. I always admired those who seemed to carry maps and schedules in their head, knowing which stops and transfers would get them where they needed to go.

Nowadays there’s all sorts of apps and electronic devices to keep us straight but there is a useful art in reading bus schedules that’s not taught in schools. I suppose it’s part of understanding how the world works, but it sometimes does you a disservice to ride with others; once you figure out how to get there on your own, you’ll never forget. You make these places your own, and you’ll never be lost; for me it’s the act of walking somewhere to physically engrave a map into my head, but I’m starting to recognize places and faces everywhere I turn lately. You form your own sociologies and geographies as your experiences grow; have you been as far and with the right people as you need to be?

Mike

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