It is past midnight at Union Station. Drunk teens stumble on the platform talking about delays. I'm tipsy too. It is a Tuesday. March Break for them - not for me.
The walls are torn down. Renovations at Union are not featured on TLC. I can't determine if this end of the platform will be the front or back. No arrows here. I should stay in the DWA anyway, even though I want to go searching for arrows. Looking for the back.
The train arrives. It was the front. It is a 'new' one. Long, sleek silver, shiny, silent - or only silent because I'm not quite sober. The inside is silent too. Not empty but silent. Every other time I have stood in this kind there has been a quiet steady chatter. Excitement about progress. Complaints about change. Comments on new features. It's either too common by now to generate a response or it is too late at night to care.
But I can walk. The best of the new features. No walls. A long mirage of shifting red and white and grey stretching out in front of me. Mirrors upon mirrors reflecting poles and people.
I slowly walk the length. Nothing moves around me. Starts and stops aren't like a street car. "Next station - is interchange station - St. George Station." Just a pressure against me when gliding to a stop. An airless wind - pushing slightly - barely slows my walk.
At the far end I can sit. The pace is fittingly train-like and I am transported, for the first time while on the TTC, to other great subways of the world; remembering: New York, Paris, Beijing, London. Smooth with that special sound.
But I can't rest my head. The worst of the new features. The windows are deeper. Putting the plexiglass uncomfortably far from my head. My neck sinks to my shoulders, my ears to my chin, my head to my neck, my chin to my coat collar.
The doors slide open at St. Claire. The walk has brought me to the back. The back has brought me to the stairs. I slowly climb the escalator to snake my way outside. Two-tone brown tiles. This is not Beijing or New York. Not Paris or London. Can't call the tiles chocolate and beige. 60s, maybe 70s, and definitely Toronto.