In November 2005 my mother passed the Sunday before Thanksgiving from heart disease. In the summer of the following year as I begin to bring my head above water and found all this time on my hands, while learning about the Internet I found out about this guy running for Senator in Tenn., Harold Ford Jr. and became captivated by his campaign before the "Call Me" commerical ruined his chances. In hindsight I am not so sure that was a bad thing. But through his race, I learned about the rising star Senator from Illinois.
Not wanting to spend the anniversary of my mother's passing and the Thanksgiving holiday alone [sure I could have spent the day with friends but it would have left so much time alone at home during that pivotal week] I decided I would do something I have always wanted to do --- take a road trip. Actually I initially wanted to ride the train to New York city and then drive back. Well, I did not like the idea that I would have to ride 21 hours to Chicago and then 21 hours to NYC. Initially I thought about riding to Chicago and then driving to NYC from there but the penalty fees for not returning the vehicle to the same location caused me to scratch that plan. So I decided to drive from Dallas to Chicago and then a few days later to NYC. It was a wonderful experience.
The drive gave me great opportunity to blare my CDs from Rolling Stones to Kirk Franklin. As an audio book lover, I was never bored. The drive also gave me an opportunity to cry for my parents gone before me and ask myself questions about where do I go from here.
I loved it so much, I was blessed to have great weather, not even rain the entire nine days. It was cold but my leather jacket was enough. More importantly I simply loved the drive. I know field after field can get a bit much at times but for me it was at times exhilarating to "discover" America.
Oklahoma hardly sounds exciting but it is filled with beautiful terrain from the Red River, rather dry when I saw it, to hills covered in trees alive with fall colors. Crossing the Mississippi River for the first time and for a girl from Dallas to see the beautiful "lakes" in Chicago followed by the Atlantic on the East coast it was wonderful.
If there is such thing as love at first sight, that is how I felt about Chicago. I really did not know much about the city, just that the wind was brutal, and my best friend dreamed of visiting there. So far she has not. I arrived at 11:30PM and seeing the city at night was wonderful. I have since learned that is really my favorite time to get to know a city when I visit at night when people are out of the way and you can drive around and get your bearings. The first thing I remember seeing was the Art Institute and surrounding campus and later the Millennium Park area.
The drive across Indiana, Ohio and Penn was great as well. I just regret that it was night time when I reached Penn so did not see and enjoy the dark hills bearing down on me. Unfortunately my arrival at NYC, although at night was not as much fun as Chicago. When I came out of the tunnel, I made a turn and ended up in what felt like something out of a movie - not one with a happy ending. It was a street lined with graffiti and stacks and stacks and STACKS of trash. If I could have turned around and gone home I would have. I suddenly thought about this movie I once watched bits of --- these guys leave a basketball game and end up making a wrong turn and it turns into a deadly adventure. My heart was pounding. Yeah I am that over-dramatic at times. But I survived and enjoyed NYC...though not as much as Chicago.
Returning home I could not get Chicago out of my system and even though I have returned once this spring, I still can't.
So how does this relate back to Senator Obama's presidential race? Well on the return I kept thinking how could I find a job that involved traveling but was interesting. I thought about the presidential election coming and figured there must be a group of people who arranged the logistics for such an operation. When I returned to Dallas I eventually told my friends that if he announced, I would apply for a job and I told myself I would do the needed research and see if I could find out about these folks who help manage travel set up the events, etc.
He announced but by then I had allowed myself to let "reality" set in and put aside the nerve to at least try to find out if it was a possibility. I gave myself a 1,000 reasons why it would never happen and how could I do this or that; how would I even begin to find out and there would likely be 100s of folks with actual experience applying. so on and so on. Yes, obviously I deeply regret that now.
I was reminded of all of this when watching Kitty Kurth, a democratic convention "speaker tracker" on Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Tribune's blog.