May 11, 2011

Dismantled Suit, Iron-Worn Pants & Buttons Loose, I Am Here

The summer interns arrive in droves. They wear crisp suits, fresh faces, and bright eyes. Razor burn along the jaw line and a forgotten dab of shaving cream behind the ear. Toe nails painted with summer colors and tucked under flipflop straps. We tuck our winter toes under the seats; has the season changed already? Our weathered faces point down or out, practiced at processing the sights their bright eyes soak up.

I had bright-eyes, too. Three summers ago, before and before and before... when I could walk to work each morning under the gaze of the Capitol building and watch summer thunderclouds wrap themselves around her dome in the evening. I wore those crisp suits until they melted my skin and wilted in the summer heat. I learned to stand in the entryway of Senate Office Buildings long enough for the sweat to evaporate and the goosebumps to form before replacing the suit jacket. Three summers ago, when I spent mornings standing in line outside the committee room, afternoons with a press-pass in hand, and evenings on conference calls dissecting proposed amendments.

I've rolled my eyes at politicians. You know this, you've seen me. But I've also stood in a church pew holding back an "amen" at grassroots campaigning and in the back of the state legislative library in our almost his-and-her suits, flipping through volumes of this and that and this... searching for nothing and coming up so close. I've sat on the couch in that office across the hall of flags. And with my legs crossed in the third row of the of the committee room.

Three summers ago, I threw my arms around her in the marble-walled bathroom four doors down from the mark-up. We celebrated the passage and our late-night work sessions outside the third stall until those-who-did-this-for-a-living walked in with tiredhappy faces. I took mine, with its wet eyes, for a celebratory milkshake that afternoon.

Three summers ago, before and before and before...

Before I learned that which means nothing to me can rise to mean everything and then settle into nothing again.

I am here again. Miles from the Capitol building, but I am here again. Dismantled suit, iron-worn pants and buttons loose, I am here again. Tired eyes, but I am here again.

All that's glamorous has fallen away.* The marble-faced buildings and the echo of my heels down their never-ending halls, the dark, wood panels of the committee room and spiral staircases, the balcony rocking chairs. The playful smiles and my eye rolls. The I know, I know, I know...

I work through tangled, misguided legislation passed in capitol buildings I've never entered by politicians who's faces I've never known. Slip my feet in and out of flats under my desk and leave them hovering over the green carpet. We adjust the air-conditioning and belly laugh until tears fall from our tired eyes.

I am here again and I am here for the first time and I am here for everything that's not glamorous. I am here for everything that's important.

*With exception, of course. Patience, Emily. Patience.

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