Monday, July 24, 2006

New Jersey weekend

On Friday, I packed a few things in a suitcase too large for them and started my walk, too late, to Union Station so I could catch my train to New Jersey.

When I got about halfway to the station and realized that I'd left the house without a book or a hat. The hat I could have lived without, but not the book. Not that I actually needed it—I had the computer and could easily entertain myself writing and listening to music and/or old radio shows. But, on principle, I cannot travel without printed reading material. So, I turned around and walked back to my house and picked up my book and a hat (as long as I was there). I didn't miss my train, but I did work up a sweat by the extra walking—not a typical result of such a walk, but in Friday's ultra humid conditions, even a ten minute walk would have been enough to work up a sweat and I more than doubled that.

I did, however, strike up a conversation with a cute guy in the train line. We chatted all the way to our seats, which we picked across the aisle from each other. But, because the train was full, and I sat near the window (mistake!) we weren't able to continue our conversation. Yes, I should have grabbed the aisle seat, but I wasn't that bold.

I got to writing, then reading, and I was absorbed in my own thoughts until we got to Philadelphia. Then the lights on the train went out. There was something wrong with the train. About ten minutes later, we were asked to gather our things and go up into the station. Odd. Everyone hustled upstairs. On the way off the train, I found myself next to my buddy again (it wasn't completely accidental) and we started chatting, mostly about our current situation. I thought we might spend the waiting interval together, but when we came to the top of the stairs, I lost him in the crowd.

There are worse places to be stranded than the 30th Street Station. I'm rarely bored when traveling and delays don't bother me. I can watch the crowd, read my book, explore the station. I considered calling my friend who lives in Philly—but why? It's not like I can't just call her any old time on the cell for no (extra) charge. And, there was little chance that I'd be stranded. I didn't call.

It took about an hour, but they got us back on (a?) our train. I espied my buddy, but he was in conversation with another woman. Harrumph.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. And, thanks to cell technology, B1 (my eldest brother) was not kept waiting for me at the station.

I was surprised to see a drowsy six-year-old niece in the back seat when he arrived to pick me up. She slept the rest of the way home.

The weekend included a six-year-old's birthday party, at which I ate cake; a seminar about composting (I am seriously considering it, but the rats might be a problem); and a trip to the grocery store (natch).

At the story, I didn't help shop, or even corral the kids; instead I hunted the aisles for free samples—the best thing about Whole Foods. In the cracker aisle, when I was with a family, I tried to move out of the way so a woman could get something from a high self. After she pulled down her crackers, she examined the box and said to me, "Do you think these are the right kind of crackers for crab spread?" She indicated a clear plastic container in her cart.

I said, "I think so. That kind of spread is pretty strong so you want a plain cracker."

"Are these plain enough?" They were that stone-cracked wheat kind. "What about these?" She pointed at another type.

I said, "They would be fine. I think the Melba toast would be good. The plain ones or the sesame."

"Thank you!" She put a box of Melba toast in her cart.

I caught up with my sister-in-law, who had missed the entire encounter, and said, "Apparently, I know everything! How can they tell?" She was too distracted with the kids to pay attention to my nonsense. I like that.

I told the oldest niece (age 8) that I was rowing in a race next weekend (yes, my second regatta of the year—you are invited-- email me for details). She said, "Oh, you're in a race? Call me if you come in first or second. Not if you come in third. Then I don't care."

I said, "You don't care if I come in third?"

"Well, you can call me either way."

"How do you think I'll do?" I asked.

"I think you'll come in second. Or maybe third."

"Not first? Why not?"

"Well, I think there are some rowers who are better than you and some who are worse."

Fair enough.

My two-year-old nephew's bedtime delaying tactics were legion. His mom said, "It's time to go upstairs to bed."


"You have milk."


"No, no smoothie at night."

"Water? I want water."

"Ok, you can have some water."

"Have to pee!"

On the drive to the train station on Sunday (the whole family was there), I sat next to my nephew and made faces at him. He said, "You funny!"

"You funny!"

"No—you funny!"

"No—you funny!"

"I not funny. YOU funny."

"Ok, I funny." Lots of giggling.

And when we finally arrived at the train station, with only ten minutes to spare, he said, "I want hug you." I obliged.

Thank you, Amtrak, for the ten-minute delay. This time, it was just what I needed.

Grateful for: family

Drop me a line.

P.S. I can't end this without a slight complaint about B1, who insisted on pursuing this line of questioning: "Are you dating? Ever try online dating? Is it hard to meet people? Are you still writing the blog? I haven't been reading. Can you catch me up?"

Answers: not dating, I've tried it ALL, what do you think? Yes, I'm still writing. (I didn't say: if you read the goddamn blog you'd have the answers to all your questions. And, no, I can't summarize something that I've spent an hour a day on for the last year and a half. I know you're busy, but geez.)

What I realized as soon as I stopped being annoyed is that he cares enough to ask. I AM grateful for that (see above).

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