Fueled by Hope - But What's Next?
In June 2008, I began an epic adventure that would forever change my life - also known as Barack Obama's Campaign for Change. During that time (June - November) I also fell in love with my campaign field organizer. The man I fell in love with was much older, wiser, and educated. He was smooth talking, from the east coast, and a breath of fresh air to my young, midwestern lungs. Much like I was to the politican I devoted at least 40 hours a week to, I was obsessed. Intrigued. Fascinated by. Our relationship was not perfect from the beginning. We both worked way too much to ever actually spend time together. I think we only ate one sit down dinner together the entire summer. I did not know any of his history, besides what I saw on networking sites and what he told me himself. Soon I discovered some unsevered ties to a jealous ex-girlfriend and numerous other questionable personal attributes. But I didn't care. We were in the middle of a revolution and he was leading it. We were on top of the world.
The election of Barack Obama on November 4th, 2008 was bittersweet for all of those working the "Dirty Southwest" region for his campaign. Most of the staffers were from out of state, which meant they would soon be packing up and leaving Kalamazoo, Michigan. This included my boyfriend. He left about a week later. It was early in the morning and I still remember the smell - a combination of tears, cigarettes, and fresh fall air. Still fueled by Obama's strong message of HOPE, my lover and I decided we could definitely make things work between us, despite the 14 hour travel time.
It was not the end of the campaign for him and I - we still had Inauguration in Washington, DC to look forward to. Being staff on the campaign, he was lucky enough to store tickets to the event. I flew out to DC and we had a magical time. It was there that he first told me he loved me. And it was there we began to make plans to move to the District of Columbia together that summer.
The time between January to May was terrible. We made short weekend visits to see eachother in our home states and had lengthy phone conversations and Skype dates. It was nothing that him or I wanted. But we were in love, and still fueled by hope. In May we moved to the nation's capital, somehow hoping Barack Obama would take us with him on his journey to the White House. Much like other former Obama staffers we tried to get jobs with Obama's team, but soon realized that was a dream much bigger than ourselves. The truth is, only the best and brightest of Obama's field staff got jobs, and there were very few of them. And during that summer, our personal relationship fell apart.
To say we truly loved one another may or may not be true. I loved the idea of who he was. Just like he loved the idea of who I was. I loved the hardworking man he was during the campaign - the man who pulled 14 hour workdays for our President and made hefty financial donations to our fellow field staffers who were struggling to pay the bills. He loved the ambitious young college student that I was, rushing after class to make calls for Obama. And even after the campaign, we loved looking back on late nights at the office together, sharing take-out Chinese. And we really loved looking forward to the future in Washington. Hoping for the best.
As we approach the 2 year mark of Obama's election, my boyfriend is now and ex, and we have not spoken in months. I will probably never speak to him again. We broke up for a reason - a good one. Yet I can't seem to shake him from my memory. I have found a much more suitable companion, and am in the process of moving to an amazing city. Somehow I still cannot let go of that longing feeling. I have finally come to terms with the fact that it is not the hard surfing, hard working boy from southern Maine that I miss. It is the campaign. It is the energy. It is the feeling of hope that fueled me in late 2008. It is foolish to believe that I have reached the peak of my love life, political career, and dreams when I have not even approached my 21st birthday yet. Hope will move on. There will be another election season. There will be (correction - is already) another great love. And Barack Obama continues to fill me with hope of a better nation, of a better life.
And he hasn't even completed his first term.