Every Saturday afternoon, I ride Caltrain with my father and brother. We never have a destination. We get on at one station, ride for 20 minutes, and then climb off and wait for the northbound train to take us home.
The tradition began because my 18-year-old brother, Lucas, has an obsession with trains. Due to his developmental disability Lucas' mentality is that of a two-year old. Lucas walks with braces and can only speak a few words. But he doesn't need words to express his joy every time the train roars into the platform. He claps his hands, giggling and shouting.
Sometimes impatient passengers stare at the boy acting like he's at Disneyland. Once, two men laughed with Lucas as he pumped his arms at the screeching train, joking, "That's right! Flag it down for us, son!"
When we buy our tickets, Dad hands Lucas the receipt because Lucas is so adamant about holding his own ticket. The conductors always smile when he tries to hand it to them as they scan for tickets.
The train rumbles past the rolling Pacific hills and urban landscape, Lucas' face glued excitedly to his window. Sipping his apple juice, he mimics the train's horn as it pumps through the stations.