For most of my adult life, I took the subway into Boston.
Now I only take the subway to the suburbs.
Once I decide not to walk.
The Orange Line is one of the four subway routes that serve the city through the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority).
We just call it the T.
Let me introduce you to the cast of characters.
For the members of my family who moved out of the city to the suburbs, the Orange Line was a long time coming.
The stop closest to my old house in Melrose, which is called Oak Grove, did not open until 1977.
By then I was a graduate student at Brown University.
And the modern subway stations from Malden Center to North Station didn’t open until 1975.
So before then, unless you could afford to own a car, you took the bus.
Or you walked.
I have done the trek from Boston to Melrose several times.
It’s about seven miles, which takes me two and a half hours.
But I didn’t have to carry packages with me.
As my forebears had to do in the early days.
When they went to the North End to get the good stuff.
When I walk to Malden or Melrose to visit friends and family, I may take the T back to town.
Hey, I’m no spring chicken!
When I do take the Orange Line back from Oak Grove, I can either get off at Downtown Crossing, and then walk through the Common and Public Garden to my place in the Back Bay.
Or I can go to Back Bay station and walk across Copley Square to Marlborough Street.
It’s about 15 minutes either way.
Now that I have lived in Boston for a few months, I see the subway stops in a very different light.
I see them as connected to their surroundings in the city.
Rather than as ways to get around it.
That’s what your feet are for.
For example, Downtown Crossing is where I go to get clothes.
And the two State Street subway entrances are the Old South Meeting House
And the Old State House.
Both hotbeds of revolutionary fervor!
North Station is where I will go to see my sports teams.
And walk home afterwards.
It’s where I get my fruit and vegetables on Friday or Saturday.
And carry them back to Marlborough Street.
The Orange Line has become a map of my city.
Rather than a way to get out of it.
I will soon meet my new doctor at Tufts Medical Center.
Which is just a short stroll across the Common.
And as soon as Chinatown is fully open for business, I can walk off my lunch quite easily.
The way home still goes through Oak Grove.
But it feels very strange to get there.
And not be home already.
I’m sure I’ll get over it.