I found myself still thinking about being 18 years old and taking that Long Island Railroad train every morning to Brooklyn, and now am remembering another experience from even earlier. My grammar school was on a main road in my town and parallel to it was a little short street known as Brookside Avenue. I had several friends who lived on that street, a lovely tree-lined one having a brook down behind the back of the houses, at the bottom of a hill. Now and then we kids would go at lunch time over to Brookside and down the hill to see what was going on at the edge of the water, and what we found there was tadpoles! I distinctly remember liking so much the several stages of the frog: first a wee black shiny fish-being, then the tadpole with its feet manifesting, and finally the perfect frog, though very miniature and of a shiny material something like the bottom of the brook. And am thinking that the person on the train, existing for a space between worlds, is a tadpole, with some features of the earlier stage and some of the end result. Another thought: the fish tail of the earlier stage had to be sacrificed so that the sea creature could become a land creature.
From a Wikipedia article, first, a nice chart of the process:
(Click on the first tadpole on the chart and you'll see a larger version of the chart, and then click on the first tadpole in the larger chart and you will get a very close-up view of each stage of development, landing finally on the petite frog at the bottom who rests on a penny.)
A quote from the Wikipedia article sums it all up:
As a tadpole matures, it most commonly metamorphosizes by gradually growing limbs (usually the legs first, followed by the arms) and then (most commonly in the case of frogs) outwardly absorbing its tail by apoptosis.
It had begun by breathing through gills like a fish, and ends up as a frog, drinking the air from the surface of the water.
Next, a wonderful story about a train fan, in the person of couturier Christian Lacroix: "Possessed, A Timely Way to Go Back in Time", written by David Colman, published in the New York Times, June 1, 2008.