The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
For the first time in a year and a half, I finally decided to make my way to the train station and head to Toronto from my small suburban town.
The traffic on the way to the station made it feel as if nothing had changed. Rush hour is always a little slower, even in a small town. The parking lot— that is typically so full I have to park on the street parallel to it, is so empty. It’s 8:30 AM and I find a parking spot in the first row. I take my time to pick the best one and I even go to the extent of reverse parking—I don’t have a rearview camera, so it takes some time, but that’s okay because both spots next to me are empty anyways.
Once I’m in, I go to tap my Presto card, and the bright green machines are different now! They are black! What’s next? Are they going to change the colour of the trains too? I relax a little when I see that all the screens are in the same place. I read the platform number, and I see that I’ve made it on time. A couple of people are running to catch the train. Alright, this feels normal. However, reality kicks in once I step onto the train. Pre-pandemic, if I had showed up two minutes before departure like I did, I would either have to wait till the next train, or risk the crowd and be stuck under someone else’s armpit— I’m short, if that wasn’t clear. Now though, it’s like a ghost town; there is only one other girl. I mean, I really have to think about what seat I want to sit in. It feels a little like the first day of middle school again, where choosing your seat determines your status and friends for the rest of the year. I picked an easy seat, the one next to the door, but before I could sit, I began to overthink it. That chair is definitely too close to the door. I am sure more people have sat on that one. So, a millisecond before I could touch the seat, I got up and picked a different one. Now, the million dollar question, where do I put my backpack? Right next to me is harder to access because of those plastic shields they have installed between each chair, but if I put it in front of me, it looks like I’m hogging space. As you can see, giving me lots of options is not as simple as it would seem.
Finally, I settle down. I take out my book, I look at the trees as we move past them; I could almost forget that this hasn’t been my day to day routine for the last year and a half. Of course, the green signs peering in from my peripheral vision that remind you to sanitize your hands and the way the mask won’t let me see the bottom of my page properly brings me back to reality.
For now I’ll enjoy my day of what feels like an alternate universe, and I’m sure that the surprises won’t stop at the black Presto machines.