First and foremost, here is an apology to any who might have checked this blog over the past three months, only to find no new updates. Not even a single sentence. As I returned to Georgia (and later North Carolina) I thought I would have time to briefly share my experiences. ‘Notes from the Campaign Trail’ or something to that effect. It quickly became apparent, however, that my life was no longer my own. I often worked 17 to 18 hour days. How difficult was it to spare ten minutes and write a short blurb? Trust me when I say that it was, well, nigh impossible. When I did have ten minutes I chose to instead walk down the Raleigh streets to the corner coffee shop and get my caffeine fix. Blame my coffee addiction.
So obviously I have returned from my campaign adventures. As I cast my memory over the past five months I find it difficult to summarize my experiences. Friends, professors and family have asked me what it was like to work on a political campaign. To them I offer, “It was amazing. Exhausting, intense, challenging. The toughest five months of my life. Exhilarating. Rewarding.” Yet none of these words capture what it was like to endure this campaign. I’ve set out to write a series of nonfiction essays about my experiences and the people I met along the way. Maybe in doing so I’ll be able to better share the flavors and textures, the vignettes and anecdotes, the trials and victories. For now let me say that I never expected to be as intensely consumed by something as I was with the campaign. A fellow field organizer, Tawny, made a comment back in July that has stuck with me: “You kinda have to sell your soul for awhile.” Yeah right, I thought at the time. Like I would ever reach that stage.
Well, I did. I have no regrets and am currently processing all that took place over the course of summer and fall. I recognize that I’m a stronger, bolder person, an accomplished leader. Yet I’ve also learned my weaknesses in leadership and the pitfalls of all-consuming dedication. While I proved to myself that I could stretch my limits, I also discovered where limits were nonnegotiable. More than anything, it feels good to know that I made a concrete difference. North Carolina won by a little over 13,000 votes. It was close; every vote counted. And to have been a part of that– flipping the state, empowering individuals, helping to elect our next president– is truly amazing. Take that, nihilism. People can make a difference with their efforts and lives. The human spirit is resilient and wants to believe in hope.
The night of November 4 was a triumphant one, and a night I’ll never forget. But it is also necessary for this country to realize that ‘change’ will not come quickly or easily. As President-Elect Barack Obama said the day following Election Day, “Now the real work begins.” When you are as deep as this country is right now, a lot of hard work is required to progress in a different, better direction. I have faith that we will get there, but it will be an arduous journey.
For now, I’m resting. Processing. I plan to catch up on reading. Now that I have time to write again, I’ll post periodic entries about my readings, reflections and future travels. Keep checking in every so often if you so choose. I promise I won’t have another hiatus for a long while. I’ll even brew my own coffee. Because, well, those ten-minute coffee excursions add up.