Tuesday’s ride started a little early so I could catch the 8:10am train to Halethorpe as I continue my burgeoning love affair with my new multimodal commute. I learned a couple of important lessons on that first 10 minutes flying down the hill, lessons I’ve learned before, if I’m being honest: wear wool socks, not flimsy cotton ones, and don’t forget a hat, even if you have to go back upstairs to get it; it’ll be worth it. And then I was standing next to my folded bike and reading when I saw R. She’s an expert at this train, taking it to and from DC every day. She had all the tips you get from being a regular commuter–which staircase will be the least crowded, where to sit to get off closest to the exit at Union Station–all the tricks to shave 12-15 seconds off your commute. I got off at Halethorpe, right at the wheelchair ramp, because I already know where to sit to shave that 3 seconds off my commute, and rode against the wind through Arbutus and up the hill to campus, passing on my way the town Christmas tree, still up and decorated with those netted lights and fake poinsettia blooms and this guy, a lit-up animatronic reindeer wearing a red bow, guarded by a red safety cone. Nobody’s touching him, I guess. There are a couple of reindeer like that over on Bank Street in Baltimore that have been there month in and month out since I moved here, but I’m guessing if this guy doesn’t scram, the suburban neighborhoods will let him know he’s not welcome. Whenever I ride through the suburbs I’m left with that feeling, that unless you live here, you shouldn’t be here, a message sent by No Parking signs and one-ways and mazes. I know how to get through it now, so I guess this means I belong–no surprise there, as I tend to go ahead and just make myself at home, aware always that the part where I can do so is quite the privilege. The ride back to the train in the dark was quick and cold, and then there was R., pointing the way to the door that lets you off just that much closer to an escalator. I didn’t even know there was an escalator at Penn Station. The more you know, I suppose. See you Thursday, R.