Sunday, February 18, 2024

train station

I do my regular Trader Joe's run on Sunday mornings. If I go around 9am, it's usually pretty quiet. I prefer to avoid crowds when I can. As I rolled my stocked grocerycart up to the check out line, I tensed for the usual, "So, what do you have going on the rest of today?" conversation that ensues. Small talk is my kriptonite. I tend to give answers such as, "Fine, how are you?" (Oh wait- they asked WHAT I was doing. Not HOW! Idiot!) 

Once I went the morning of Memorial or maybe it was Labor Day. They asked what I was doing to celebrate later. We didn't have plans that day, and I felt stupid saying that. Like a loser.  So then I randomly say that we are attending a BBQ at a friends. The next thing I know, I am answering random questions about my made up BBQ and friends for the remainder of my time in line. 

Up until I was in my late 30's, I always thought I was an extrovert. I love people and their stories. I talk too loud, and I frequently overshare. I don't mind speaking to a room of hundreds of people. Sometimes I love going out. But I didn't understand why I was such a broken introvert. As far as social gatherings go, I prefer a small group of people versus a roomful. I hate small talk. I panic if the doorbell rings and I'm supposed to answer it. I have to recharge alone after being around a lot of people. 

According to, Introversion is a personality trait characterized by a focus on internal feelings rather than on external sources of stimulation. Introverts also typically get more energy and recharge by spending more time alone than with others. That being said, introverts and extroverts are often viewed in terms of two extreme opposites, but the truth is that most people land somewhere in the middle.

Ah ha. I like that descriptor. We can be both. (Most personality tests show I am).We can be anything, even though the world finds it much more convenient to put people into one single basket. 

So today, when the Trader Joe's Employee asked, "How are you doing." I responded with, "Great! I love coming early when it's quiet, and all the good people are at Church." The man started belly laughing, and then I thought- oh, crap. I just inadvertently called him 'bad people' because like me- he isn't at church. But unlike me- he is working and I just chose to come here now. "You aren't bad people though. You have to work. So you can guess what category I am in." I replied. 

The lady bagging my groceries said, "We were actually singing gospel songs this morning, so that counts for something- right?" As the man ringing up my groceries started to quietly sing:
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry he home 

I quickly pulled up the song on my phone and turned my phone to the loudest setting as I lifted it in the air. The three of us clapped and stomped along, as I slowly waved my phone back and forth. My face hurt from smiling. 

Apparently I can't do, "What do you have going on later today," but I can do a full blast spiritual hymn in communion with others in the middle of a check out line. There's just no box for that, and I am ok with it. 

(Here's a link for a free personality test. I like this one because it gives multiple personality aspects, and what percent of each you are. I've noticed mine has changed slightly the older I've gotten.)

We never are just one thing. Screw the boxes. 

This week I took my 100th Barre class in St. Louis, commemorated with new socks, and plenty of fanfare. I was part proud and part humbled. Before we left California, I took my final 1373rd Barre class. I thought- this kind of sucks to be starting over.  

As I let my mind get lost in the exercise I realized- When we have experience- we are never really starting over. We are starting from where we finished, and there's a huge difference. Experience counts for something no matter the skill, the job, the life event. We are not starting from scratch, unless of course we are. But even then, I still believe with age and experience comes wisdom. Don't knock the wisdom. 

Since we've arrived in Kirkwood, Grey has been asking to go on a train ride. Seriously- it's daily. He actually doesn't ask, he just tells us, "Let's go to Kirkwood Train Station." Finally on Friday, all his wild dreams came true.

This train station is straight out of a Hallmark Movie. It's been here for 131 years, with a little sprucing up in between and it still has all of it's vintage charm. 

According to Kirkwood City Records, "In 2002, Amtrak was on the verge of closing the Train Station as part of cost-cutting efforts. Not wanting to lose this vibrant and essential downtown icon and meeting place, the City bought the building. It continues to serve as an Amtrak station and Visitors' Center, staffed by a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers." 

I love a good story of community and perseverance.  

As soon as we got there, Parker spotted a darling gentleman with silver hair waiting for his train. "That's my new grandpa," he announced. "What's your name?" he asks his new Grandpa. Ted comes from Illinois once a year to visit his high school girlfriend. It turns out, Ted went to the same high school as my Mom, and they were just a couple of years apart. Small small world. Parker doesn't have any living Grandpas and it makes me so happy (and a little embarrassed) and sad when he frequently appoints one in public.

The excitement of waiting for the train was almost as good as the ride itself. 

For the first time in a month, the snow started pouring down. It was absolutely magical. 

We took a twenty minute trip to Downtown St. Louis and then right back. It was a perfect adventure. 

We are all writing our own story, so let's make it a good one. This week we have big plans, you and me. We will:

Focus on what I can, not what I can not.
Wake up and say, "I choose hope over fear" every damn day. I will remind myself when I forget. 
I will accept myself as enough  the awesome human I was created to be. Enough is not enough to describe you and me. We are more than enough in the best possible way.
I will look for silver linings amongst the hard things.

So much love,

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