The subway. The el. The train. Chicagoans have so many words for our public transportation system. Most of those words are four letters long and hurled at bus drivers pulling away from the curb a moment too soon. Complaining about the Chicago Transit Authority is the city’s favorite pastime—surpassing our love of back porch cookouts, more constant than the corruption of our politicians, deeper than our sports rivalries. I don’t complain, though. For me, the crush of people, the delays, and the stench are a low price to pay for being able to go anywhere. I don’t drive. I never have and I have a seizure condition which ensures that I never will, so I moved to Chicago, where you can live like a person even without a car. When I arrived, the train doors opened for me.
I wrote Please Stand Clear of the Doors, published by Slag Glass City, and I’ll be reading it out loud on at Essay Fiesta Puts On Metaphorical Fireworks Show on July 17th! You’ll want to come and listen to me subtly change things while I read, because I always do.
This story is my love letter to Chicago. I wrote it on a damp day in Columbus, Ohio. It’s also about how painful and awkward it is to be gender nonconforming on public transportation. I hope you enjoy it.
[Image description: View of the train tracks in the Chicago Loop. Photo by Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States (Chicago El) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons]