Just As I Thought

Clickety Clack

You’d think that after two years and 4 months in California I’d have run out of comparisons to my old home in DC, but every so often I realize that something is different and I didn’t even realize it. Today? Trains.
Back in the DC area, trains — from freight to passenger — are relegated to a few tracks here and there. There are, of course, train yards dotted around, one large one used to stand where my local Target was opened over by the river. My old office backed up to train tracks, which featured MARC, Metro, and freight trains all day.
But they were on the periphery. Here in San Jose, the trains are all over.
Tracks and a train yard are just blocks from my house, and in the wee hours of the morning I can hear the high-pitched squeaks of freight train wheels as they roll slowly through. During the day, CalTrain commuters zip up and down the line through San Jose. Tracks run across city streets in the middle of downtown, used a few times a day by gravel trains from quarries in the mountains. And here across the street from my office in Campbell is a single track that sometimes hosts a freight, rumbling deeply through the building as it passes, backing up traffic as it goes. I won’t even mention the light rail system that runs right on the downtown streets.
Tracks are everywhere here, and they crisscross around downtown behind warehouses and old canneries. Today those canneries are pricey lofts, and the tracks still run inches away from the bedrooms of those living there. Back in DC, they had little by way of industry, so the tracks were easy to keep isolated.
I am strangely comforted by the sounds of the trains at night, as I lay in bed I listen to their rhythm and it reminds me of long ago.
Then a private jet takes off at the airport after curfew, and the 21st century Silicon Valley intrudes.

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