Brown Line Forever! (or just for now, i dunno)
People in Chicago have something to say about every mode of public transportation, especially when it comes to the CTA train lines.
Last year I lived in Chicago for six months and lived off the Blue Train Line. I liked it a lot because it was very close to my apartment and was a straight shot to the airport. But, I also didn’t know anything. I look back on that time when I was all ‘Blue Line or die!’ with a sweet smile because I was so clueless to the Blue Line being a gross garbage train that doesn’t take you anywhere but the airport and a lot of nothing until you hit downtown. When I told friends I lived off the Blue Line, they’d say things like
“yeah, the Blue Line is alright, it just doesn’t really take you anywhere”
“the Blue Line is always breaking down”
or something as basic and broad as
“Oh yes, that is a train that exists.”
It was probably the wide-eyed wonder and fascination with public transportation and the giddy excitement of something new, but I was defensive of my Blue Line. Who cares what these haters say, do they even know there’s a donut shop at the base of the Blue Line Damen stop? (There’s a donut shop at the entrance of 97% of train stops) After six months, I left Chicago knowing I wanted to move back, and convinced I’d be a Blue Line Babe once again.
In June I made the permanent move back to Chicago, a move I’m calling “Chicago Round 2: The Wait for Winter” because of how anxious I am for winter. Will my biggest fear of freezing mid-stride while crossing the street (think the famous Beatles’s Abbey Road cover photo) be confirmed? The wait continues...
In “Chicago Round 2: The Wait for Winter” I found myself in a completely new neighborhood. I moved into a family friend’s home in Uptown, far away from my dear Blue Line. I was a Red Line Lady now and my loyalty shift QUICKLY.
For the most part, Chicago is built North/South along the lakefront. The Red Line travels North/South while the Blue Line travels East/West. I have now experienced both lives and totally get why everyone told me the Blue Line is pointless. Blue Line sucks, Red Line rocks and I’ll say that until I die!
When I settled into my new spot in Uptown for Chicago Round 2: The Wait for Winter, I told friends I was now living off the Red Line and got a whole new set of opinions.
“The Red Line is always so busy, you’re going to be standing butt to balls”
“don’t wear a backpack; people will yell at you for taking up space”
“the Red Line smells like urine.”
And honestly, these are all correct. There’s often someone swindling passengers with dice games and, yes, I was told not to ride it after 10pm or before 7am and okay, it smells like urine, but I had a new sense of resilient Chicago pride being off the Red Line. This was my new home line and I would love it despite its flaws and smells.
But then I moved. I left my family friend’s house and all the homemade food, hospitality and general comfort of a home setting to live on my own in a studio apartment like the baller city gal I was becoming! Now I live off the Brown Line, and…
The Red Line is like waking up after a night of chasing tequila shots with white wine and the Brown Line is like getting 8 hours of restful sleep after a day of eating vegetables and drinking a gallon of water.
All you need to know about the Brown Line is that it can handle having fabric seats. The other day on the Brown Line, someone accidentally spilled their entire cup of coffee on the empty seat next to them. They took out a piece of paper, wrote “WET SEAT” and left it on the spill to warn future riders. How considerate! Talk about community looking out for one another. Brown Line, baby! We care!
Once, on the Red Line, I saw someone drop their Dunkin Donuts coffee on the floor and leave it. To be clear - they didn’t leave the train, they sat there as the cup rolled around with the motion of the train, gently pushing creamy iced coffee across the floor. No one did anything, just kept track of the spill in our peripheral in case we needed to move our feet from its path. Red Line, baby! Who cares!
In less than 12 consecutive months of living in Chicago, I have been a Blue Line Babe, a Red Line Lady and finally a Brown Line-d Girl (read this like Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”) Despite a west-traveling chunk at the tail end, The Brown Line conveniently travels North/South and it doesn’t smell like urine - did I finally find the perfect, opinion-proof train line? No, but there's no such thing. Plus, right now I’m in the honeymoon stage with my train line and everything it does is cute.
Doesn’t display which stop is next? Cute.
Only goes 15 mph in certain areas? Cute.
Has a 25 minute wait between trains on weekends? Cute.
So I’ll say it loud and I’ll say it proud! BROWN LINE FOR LYFE*
*or until I move and become a Green Line Goddess or Pink Line Prophet.