The pause that refreshes – although it doesn’t land me a job.

I took a timeout from pounding pavement yesterday to tour Tacoma's historic Union Station, now a federal courthouse, since I was in the neighborhood.

It's not abundantly clear why the guard checks I.D.s with the ease of forging them and their proliferation among illegals and sorts up to no good. Weird, he checks the I.D. but not the bag. I could be a terrorist with a plot and an explosive. I'm not. Just sayin'.

I read the shiny brass plaques dotting the rotunda. The station was built in 1911. At the time, 48 trains were scheduled to pass through Tacoma. The expanded use of autos and planes put the brakes on. When the station was shut in 1984, only six train runs had survived.

What many don't know is that Tacoma is host to one of the nation's finest glass museums. Glass works are prominently featured in this neighborhood, the original and historic downtown.

I traipse down marble stairs where so many before me have passed. Not much lower level. Just unoccupied bistro tables, closed doors to lawyer offices, a pair of vending machines tucked discretely into an anteroom.

And an enclosed glass case containing 32 posters of missing children. I study them. Most are 13, 14. From places far away as Fort Lauderdale, Florida, across the country, Las Vegas, Rolla, Missouri. From obscure towns like ike Franklinton, North Carolina, Berlin Center, Ohio. One is from the nearby Salem, Oregon.

What would bring these kids to the Tacoma area?

I study their faces. I want to sit with each and listen. Give them someone who listens. To listen and say I know. Because I do.

I examine their faces and see my own. I very nearly became a runaway. It took the inner fighter to stay in the abuse rather than flee it and lose my life's dreams and goals at the time to the streets.

Exiting, I pass a different guard and we get to chatting. Yes, he responds, the benches are the originals.

Earlier I'd taken pause in one. They're narrow. I fit but a lot of folks today wouldn't. If they reopened this station, they'd need to install different benches. I contemplate the many before who have taken this very same seat.

Who were they? Why brought them here? Were they arriving or departing? As they sat waiting, were they happy or sad? Was hardship or reunion associated with their journey?

So many stories in the silence of these marble walls and floors.

The guard says the rotunda can be rented — parties, events, receptions. I hadn't known! There are local caterers practiced in the rental rules and restrictions and there are many, he says. Not surprised.

"Like no laying duct tape across the floors. These are the original marble floors. You'd be surprised how many people think they can just lay out tape," he gestures.

Actually I wouldn't.

He pulls a brochure from his stand and I receive it with a friendly chuckle. Pretty as the rotunda is, I can't think of any event I'd rent it for (and not at these prices) except a book release party I say after a moment of thought.

Turns out the guard's writing a book so we talk on that a while.

It costs $195 an hour each for set-up and clean-up … $300 an hour for an event up to 400, includes three guards. Each additional 150 people requires an extra guard for $45 an hour. He's not joking when he says he makes good money.

So Tacoma takes care of its rotunda and it should, it's lovely and thanks to some who stepped up to the plate toward its restoration and preservation, it's on the registery of historical sites.

I take leave of the guard, wishing him luck with his book. Which he's told me he's writing longhand because he has to think about typing when he's typing and it interferes with the writing. I muse eventually one way or another he'll have to get it typed up.

For me, it's different. From the moment I took up typing on an electric typewriter in a summer school course around 7th grade, it was aaaaahhhhh. My abodes change with the weather but long as there's a keyboard beneath my fingers, I'm home.

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