It happens to me before an early flight, or when I am nervous about a big meeting. My alarm goes off, and I spring out of bed, unable to settle back into the blankets. (My dog loves this, because her whole existence is based on getting fed as early as possible.)
With a couple layers and my snow boots, I ran to the bus stop at full speed. I settled into the 16, feeling guilty that everyone else was on their way to work and looking miserable, and that I was going to the depot. I jumped off at 5th Street and waited for the 21. I ran into a friend, who was walking towards the depot and wondering why I was just standing there. I told him that the 21 would bring us into the depot - onto the mezzanine! He smiled and we waited together.
My very first arrival at the depot was a quiet one. Somebody had to open a door for us. It gave me a chance to walk through the concourse and waiting room before the crowds.
A big plastic curtain separated the head house, where the media event was being staged. I slipped through the curtain to find a packed room. At 9:15?! Die hard train people.
Spotted: world's cutest future ridership. Why didn't I wear overalls?
One hour and fifteen minutes later (!), the electeds pulled down the curtain to the cheers of a restless crowd. Music blared as streams of people, smiles on their faces, cameras and phones and kids held high, poured into the depot and flooded the waiting room.
Turns out, the depot isn't very big when it's crammed with happy, train-loving people. Kids chatted about Thomas while parents wrote out postcards to mail. Old friends hugged and talked about their childhood. Elderly couples sat on new benches holding hands. Artists beamed. Train conductors posed for photos with the carnival princesses. This is how you throw a party, my friends - with heart. You let people be the main attraction, and let the depot slip right back into its supporting role.
And, of course, I got absolutely nothing done - I didn't even collect my commemorative poster! Everywhere I looked, there were people from different parts of my life in Saint Paul. It was a 4-hour onslaught of hugging people out of context, and it was magnificent.
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