The letter A.
Stop. It’s not the scarlet letter A. Or A-hole A. Or Sesame Street’s, “brought to you by the letter A.”
It’s “what the hell did I sign up for” A.
I’m didn’t think this over. It’s how I make decisions.
Would you like to buy my Girl Scout cookies? Delicious. Here’s some cash.
Do you want me to cut your hair, like, more than a trim? Does that mean you think I should? It’s getting too big isn’t it? Yes, do it.
Do you want to participate in the A – Z writing challenge for the month of April? You must write every day using a different letter of the alphabet. Sounds fun! Sign me up.
What am I doing? It’s 9:51 Central Standard Time on Day 1. Day A.
I’ve written 30 days in a row before. Last November I participated in Nano Poblano. I loved it. There are some great posts from that challenge. I know they’re great because I read them months later. They’re good. I laughed.
That’s the thing with writing. I can’t tell if I’m writing shit or not. Like, right now. Is this shit? I don’t know. I’ll be able to tell in a few months, long after I forget about this post. I’ll be able to tell if I keep your attention because you’ll come back tomorrow.
Here we go.
The letter A.
Awe: an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful or the like.
That was me this week. I was in awe. Mouth-dropping awe. The I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened kind of awe.
There’s a blurred line between writing for a Kansas City magazine and writing about my personal life on this blog. I have my own column in the magazine. It’s about my personal life. But I don’t write my “professional life” articles on this “personal life” blog.
I live many lives.
A Kansas City magazine is for Kansas City. For me, Kansas City is home. I was born here, raised here, married here, and we’re raising our kids here. My extended family lives here too. In fact, if you live anywhere in the Kansas City metro, you probably know one of my cousins. I have over 100 cousins and second cousins. They’re multiplying as I type. I don’t know what to say other than my mom’s side is Mexican and my dad’s side is Catholic. Hey, it’s not stereotyping if it’s true.
Kansas City doesn’t have beaches or mountains. We’re probably the furthest you can get from both. The best part about Kansas City is the people. I mean, sure, we’ve all flipped off one another on I-35 but for the most part we’re good people.
Kansas City is known for barbecue and jazz. Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse in Kansas City. Ernest Hemingway wrote for the Kansas City Star. We breed funny people such as Eric Stonestreet, Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd, and Jason Sedeikis. Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl, is from Kansas City. And that cute Kate Spade clutch you’ve been eyeing? Oh, yes. My daughter, Kate, isn’t the only Kate from Kansas City. Hallmark cards, Garmin, and Sprint are headquartered here. But like I said, the best part of Kansas City is the people. Superman said it best, “I’m from Kansas. I’m about as American as it gets.”
If you look at a map – you’ll find Kansas City is actually two cities. Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. I live on the Kansas side. I’m Team Superman.
If I’m going to show off Kansas City to you, I’m going to take you to Kansas City, Missouri.
My first stop – Union Station. Union Station is Kansas City’s train station. It’s the train station of the past but also the train station of the present. It’s been called “Kansas City’s castle” and “Kansas City’s front porch.” A 850,000 square foot building, opened in 1914, is bound to pick up a few nicknames.
Union Station can show you the best of Kansas City without leaving on an Amtrak train. I can take you to a live theatre or a movie theatre. We can wine and dine at one of Kansas City’s best restaurants or we can grab a coffee to go. We can check out the latest traveling museum exhibit or look at the stars on a sunny day in the Planetarium. Science City is here and it’s exactly what the name implies. It’s a kid’s dream – not to mention a teacher’s dream too.
I forgot to mention – Union Station is drop dead gorgeous.
Sit in awe. It’s ok, people do it all the time.
At her peak, she was a train station that saw over a million passengers during World War 2. Her main hall can hold 10,000 people. “Meet me under the clock” only meant one clock.
95-foot ceilings, three 3,500 pound chandeliers, a six-foot wide clock. She is grand. When you’re drop dead gorgeous, pictures never do you justice. Forget a world stopped still in black and white. She’s always had color. When I say you can sit in awe, you can sit in awe of the soldiers boarding for World War 1. Or maybe that man in a fedora has a flask of whiskey hidden in his suit because it’s the Prohibition. You might even see Walt Disney carrying sketches of a mouse. He’s taking a gamble by leaving for California. You can see what it was like arriving in Kansas City for the first or maybe last time. The walls of Union Station holds most of Kansas City’s history of hellos and goodbyes.
I went somewhere else inside Union Station. It’s a place those millions of people have never seen.
I went to the attic.
I didn’t meet anyone under that clock. I stood 95 feet above it. The clock is still wound by hand.
And those 3,500 pound chandeliers? They’re originals.
I stood above those too.
They can still be raised and lowered but the crank to do so sits untouched.
There are not many Kansas Citians that can say they’ve been in Union Station’s attic. There’s office space that surrounds the building, some of it forgotten.
There’s graffiti on the walls showing teenagers being teenagers. I’m looking at you, Eileen Glynn of July 11, 1975.
The walls upstairs were never meant for show. A 1910 construction worker probably never considered there might be a 35-year-old woman calling out his sloppy mortar job in 2017. But it’s still beautiful.
My job is to write stories for Kansas City. I like doing it. I love it, really. I love showing off my hometown. Union Station is the queen of stories only most of them will never be told.
I’m sitting in Kansas at 12:16 a.m., writing a story on Union Station and I’m still in awe.
The letter A kind of awe.