I love public transportation. It is one of the only instances where people from all walks of life are thrown suddenly into and must share the same space for an extended period of time only for that bond to be torn apart with the same inconsequential lightness that it was formed. I am romanticizing of course.
For the most part my experiences are colored only with the wafts of piss, the endless jostling of arms and backpacks, and the inexpressive gazes of the people facing you. And yet, I cannot let go of my enjoyment of the metro on a Saturday morning, crowded with excited children, well dressed men and deliciously perfumed women. I love my late night bus rides that take 80 minutes and lull me with the cyclical stop and start, ebb and flow of people heading back to the comfort of their private lives. I love the metro musicians who both take their talents on the trains and who lay claim to certain corridors, filling the underground cement tunnels with their songs. Suddenly the train is transformed into a campfire and the tunnels become a stage.
The very best thing that APA has provided us with – in my humble opinion- are our public transport passes that allow us to take a variety of public transportation in Paris an unlimited amount of times for a flat rate of 30 euro a month. This has been the key to experiencing the city because it makes it so easy to travel all over.
Though there a certainly trains I have yet to ride, I orient Paris according to the metro stops, to the bus routes, and to their directions and times. And the train or bus you use to get home becomes a kind of home and the metro stop you get off at becomes a kind of identity. You can see this is the fact one of the first things people talk about when they get together is what routes they took to arrive and which ones they’ll take to leave.
No matter how rickety ligne 11 can be, as soon as I step onto the platform signified with a little brown circle, I feel this odd sense of commrodary with the other people standing and sitting around me. Like, we’re all neighbors or something. The truth is more like they are mostly just visiting my neighborhood to get some chinese food or visit the park Butte-Chaumant. But there are definitely people I see all the time who I recognise live in the same neighborhood.
In such a big city, I didn’t imagine identifying specifically with the neighborhood I was placed in, but it feels good to have a smaller community nestled within the large one that I can come to identify with.