The red line train is the hour-and-a-half milk run from the Portland airport to the Beaverton Transit Center. Five people on the train included a Native American homeless woman and her friend, a girl with very sad eyes, a fellow focused intently on his crossword puzzle that reminded me of a Key West friend of mine named Madison, and for two stops only, one thousand second-graders going to the zoo on a field trip. They left the train so quickly at their stop they sucked the available oxygen from the car and left the rest of us gasping. It felt like an Oklahoma springtime thunderstorm: a rush of thunder cracking the sky, a deluge of rain, then wet silence and ringing ears.
I had a strange form of rail-vertigo. Whenever the train stopped I had the strongest desire to run out the open door, run around the car, then leap back into the door at the moment just before it closed. I resisted the urge only because I didn’t think I could make the circuit around the car before the doors closed. If I were younger, I’d have done it.
A glorious dampness covers everything from the concrete bridges to the small cabin of St. Francis of Asisi outside my cousin’s front door. Evergreens are everywhere, poking up higher than the rhododendrons, azaleas, and forsythia’s bright yellow buds. It was Spring, and it was wet.
If you’re raised in the Northwest you never forget the smell of rain on concrete, or the look of moss growing on rooftops. You never lose the love of the damp, and the green.