Last Friday evening I waited with a jittery bunch of passengers for the North-South line streetcar to arrive in the middle of downtown.
Some, like me, were part of the late bunch who had just finished work. But most were out on the town, traipsing amongst the vast array of quality restaurants and watering holes.
I was in a mood.
After work I was wiped out and wanted nothing more than to get home, wind down with a cold beer, and hang out with Mr. H and the cats.
As the streetcar approached, it looked packed. It was warm that night, and being smashed up against strangers was the last thing I wanted to do.
Then, I began to hear a familiar tune.
Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”
(Okay, I’m losing it. Am I hearing Ella Fitzgerald on the freaking streetcar?)
Birds singing in the sycamore trees
Dream a little dream of me
Yes, I was.
The streetcar doors opened to reveal a full-on jazz trio—two guys and a gal—clad in 1940s duds. She was the lead singer, one guy played the guitar and sang with her, while the other manned an upright bass.
We all squished into what I could only describe as a party train from another time. Fortunately, there were plenty of others around to console my fear of insanity. Historical fiction writing can blur the lines of reality and make-believe in my head sometimes.
It turns out that I happened upon another thing that makes the city of Portland that much more awesome.
Streetcar Mobile Musicfest celebrates the city by featuring local musicians on downtown streetcars at various times of the year. The live music is included with your streetcar fare, which is a whopping buck one way.
Lucky me had the privilege to see Boy & Bean. They were talented and mesmerizing.
To say that this was a magical experience doesn’t even do it justice.
The music transformed the public transportation experience entirely. Usually everyone tunes out on the streetcar, listening to music, fiddling with their smartphones, or sitting with their arms crossed and staring out the window.
That night everyone tuned in.
Riders were smiling, clapping, photographing, filming, and swaying in the seats and aisles.
There was an old couple next to me dancing and singing the whole time. The woman and I looked at each other with foolishly happy tears in our eyes. From two completely generations, we grinned and moved together, connected by a few beautiful minutes on a crowded downtown streetcar.
It would not have been hard to spend hours there, enjoying the vibe with all of those strangers as the city lights sailed by. Of course, I almost missed my stop and jumped up just in time.
I reluctantly exited the streetcar and walked home in a different mood than when I got on, jiving inside.