Can’t ignore the train


I had a couple of hours to spend alone today, so I went to photograph a train.  What’s more lonesome than a train?  (Nothing.  That was a rhetorical question.)  I wasn’t really feeling lonesome.  I was just diving into the time to myself by doing something different.

John took Willow to a wedding, and the big kids spent part of the day with their dad and his family.  After they were all gone, I went to church, where practically everyone said, Wow!  You’re on your own today!  Truth be told, I missed having the kids there with me, but at the same time it was a different experience to only have my own self to be looking after.   Today’s sermon was on life transitions: beginnings, endings.  Our minister, Victoria, is not only a great public speaker, she’s an amazing storyteller.  She talked about driving home one day and seeing that a train was parked on the usually deserted train tracks in her neighborhood.  When she realized what kind of train it was


she was flooded with memories of going to the circus as a kid; all the smells and emotions and excitement came right there into her car and rode home with her. 

Course, she did a much better job of telling the story.  You really ought to come to church with me sometime.  Not only do we not pray (but you totally can if you want to), you don’t even have to believe in god.  Or God.  Anyway.  Something to think about.

She talked about how much the circus has changed.  It’s not at all the same show that made memories for her.  The rings, ringmaster, sideshows, and leisurely pace are gone; instead there is a fast-moving, high tech, arena show.  A show with rap music, laser lights, and extreme whatever-is-popular acts.  They still have the elephants, and you can still get popcorn, but the circus that used to pull into town on the long, long train doesn’t exist anymore.  She wasn’t lamenting that fact, but rather talking about how everything is always changing all the time.  If the circus didn’t get modern, it would likely be gone entirely.  By evolving, but hanging on to just a few of the old pillars, the train still runs and the circus still travels from town to town. 

Like, Austin, for example

And, now is as good a time as any to bug you to read this book if you haven’t already. 

So, transitions.  I have been giving a whole hell of a lot of thought to transitions lately, as my life is chock full of them.  Tomorrow all four kids will be in public school for the first time ever.

I repeat: Tomorrow all four kids will be in public school for the first time ever.

It’s been a long time coming.  Somewhere along the way I left behind my tendency to cling to my kids’ babyhood and pine for the days when they were tiny, and now I’m all for the aging.  It’s totally fascinating to watch them grow and become themselves.  I love the ways that they are different from one another, from me, from their fathers.   And?  The last few times I’ve been around toddlers, I’ve come away exhausted and wondering how the hell I did that for so many years running.  Honestly, I am not sure that I could take care of an 18 month old for a day now.  It’s suddenly foreign and unthinkable again.  Who’d have ever thought. 

Tomorrow as Lex heads off to middle school and Willow starts kindergarten, I won’t be crying.  I’ll be happy and proud for them, these incredible people who I’m lucky enough to get to call mine.  And, since I’m working from home tomorrow, I’ll mix up a batch of cookie dough between emails and have warm gooey cookies and milk on the kitchen table by 3 so I can watch them smiling and listen to them tell me about their days. 


4 thoughts on “Can’t ignore the train

  1. Marsha

    For some reason I thought Willow started Kindergarten last year. I guess she is an older kindergartener. Lily started at the beginning of August, weird school schedule here. It is going amazingly well (knock wood). I hope for the same for you and yours.

  2. jenijen

    thanks, marsha 🙂 she was in preschool last year, but didn’t turn five till february, so this is her big debut (well, in a few hours). glad to hear school is going well for you.

    furiousball — i saw lots of guys going on and off the train, and a few people were hanging out in this fantastic old beat up bus. so i am reasonably sure that i unknowingly saw carnies.

  3. Annie

    I can’t believe Willow is starting kindergarten — she can’t be that old! I think it’s because I don’t have kids, but I expect other people’s kids to remain the same age FOREVER.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *