For the first time in about 10 years, I was summoned for jury duty. This time it wasn’t the dreaded Frank Crowley Criminal Courthouse. It was the slightly more refined George Allen Civil Courthouse on Commerce Street. And not to say that Crowley is the bad seed, but let’s face it. It’s on the other side of the smelly tunnel. The trains don’t even stop there so you have to take a bus. And it just looks oppressive with Lew Sterritt looming right next to it. Oh and did I forget to mention all the scary looking bail bond places across the street. Now I can say I’ve officially been to both courthouses.
Ok so back to my jury summons. I decided to take the train since the West End DART station was only 2 blocks away from the courthouse. My fare was free of charge on the way there (and yes, I said on the way there, more on that later).
Like the responsible little researcher, I planned my morning route adequately. I would take the 6:48 AM Red line and arrive at the West End station at 7:21 AM.
The morning commute wasn’t so bad. Getting out of bed at 5:00 AM was the worst. I prepared the night before by taking a shower and packing my things: some light reading material, my phone charger, my journal, assorted pens and pencils, and my Kindle. So really all I had to do in the morning was wake my ass up, drink my coffee, eat something light, change clothes and head out for the day. Craig was a darling and made sure I got out of bed on time.
I’m very fortunate in that the Arapaho station is really close to my house. The temperature of the air was mild but I could already tell it was going to be a scorcher. There were around 3 other commuters waiting on the platform once I arrived and it wasn’t long before our train arrived.
It’s not often these days that I get to explore and do new things by myself. Now that I’m married, I almost always have a husband in tow. In some ways, being able to take the train downtown by myself freed me from the burden of having to drive. It allowed me to just sit back, read my Kindle while listening to music and occasionally glance out the window to watch as the suburbs gradually changed into an urban landscape.
The West End station was my final destination. It was the closest stop to the courthouse, which was only about 2 or 3 blocks away. Although the train station was populated with what seemed to be loitering vagrants, the city sidewalks were practically empty. I guess no one else really walks through downtown.
I spent maybe 2 hours at the George Allen building before I was finally assigned to Justice of the Peace court in northwest Dallas. According to the jury clerk that our small group spoke with, JP courts don’t usually have trial cases but when they do, they usually call the county courthouse to send jurors to their district for the jury selection process (voir dire).
I was disappointed because I couldn’t spend more time exploring the city. I had to report to the other courthouse at 1:30. This gave me just enough time to grab something to eat, hop on a train back home to get my car and maybe catch a quick nap before going heading back out.
Rather than strolling into the closest McDonald’s, I decided I would serve the local economy better if I chose a restaurant that I’d never heard of or been to before. Something that wasn’t a chain.
I stumbled across this place called The Purple Onion. A quick Google search from my phone called it a Greek place, but when I walked in, it seemed more like a bar that served a diverse menu of cafe staples. Still there were a few people seated at tables throughout so it couldn’t be that bad. Plus they were open for breakfast and I was dying for eggs and home fries. After breakfast, I made my way down Field St. to the Akard Station on Pacific and began my trek home.
As I walked through the city and gazed up at the tall buildings, I realized there is a certain level of independence that I miss now that I’m married. Even though Craig does his best to give me space when I ask for it. I can’t just take a day trip on a whim by myself without having a good reason.
I remember at one point in my life, I wanted to move to a metropolitan area. I loved the diversity you can only find in urban areas. It inspires a sense of adventure. Now, however, I find myself looking forward mornings when it’s cool enough for me to enjoy my cup of coffee on the front porch. I think of plans for the yard and I look forward to the potential unfolding in the garden.
My day in the city was a reminder of a dream I used to have, but no longer yearn for. Because I’m happy now where I’m at, and even happier that I have someone to share it with.
Photo: Kristine Macabare.