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I’m sitting on one of those terribly designed concave dips of a seat near the door. I didn’t get enough sleep the night before and was steadily being lulled to sleep by the steady rock of the train. The only thing keeping me awake is my sense of caution and the erratic entrance of new passengers.

A prim-looking woman sits down diagonally from me. She reminds of me Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus series, only I don’t think of this woman as so friendly and enthusiastic. Almost unknowingly, she smirked at me, as if to say, “What are you doing on this train?” I don’t blame her, really, because I’m sure the majority of the other passengers felt the same. Indeed, bright colored miniskirt and kicks were an uncommon sight among the business suits and e-Readers of the usual 6 a.m. crowd.

The prim lady with the curly hair and a paperback peered at me again from under her glasses. I look back at her as if to say, “So what? I look like you the rest of the week when I work, except better.” But I realize she and her comrades will never actually see me in my suits because usually I’ll be on the train before they even get up to prepare for the day. But then I think, why do I even care that she and everyone else is all dressed up and glancing at me, why do I even care to be one of them. I had what they didn’t have: youth and the ability to work that miniskirt and those bright blue Keds whenever I want. I smiled. And then I looked up as we reached another stop. It was raining outside. And so began another summer day in Chicago.

[This summer I will be commuting 2+ hours each day for work. This morning, as I was on my way to pick up my best friends from the airport, I realized that so much people watching and storytelling could occur during those commutes. So I will write these dispatches from the trains and buses of Chicago on my cellphone or a scrap piece of paper whenever I feel inspired to. And I hope to continue these dispatches this fall when I will be in France and commuting to classes – and offer a fresh perspective from those quarters.]

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