Friday. 4.12.13 3:02 am
After one night on a megabus, three nights on Amy’s couch, and two more on a $20-a-day bed in a hostel, my decision to resign rather than campaign in church was starting to come back to bite me. Not only was the money I saved from various grants was dwindling faster than I envisioned, but finding a new job was difficult. Turns out 2/3rds of a law degree ain’t worth that much in the real world and all my supposed principles and values couldn’t be bartered for food.
“The way I see it, I’ve got three options. I can either return to Harvard and complete my law degree. Only thing is is that I missed the registration deadline and would have to enroll in whatever classes weren’t full. Alternatively, I could just go home to Texas. But the prospect of moving back home to live with my mom feels like admitting failure,” I glance up from the plate of eggs and toast before me to see newlyweds Isaac and Elvia grinning back at me. Although I’ve known the couple for a few years, I didn’t think to reach out to them for a place to crash until I grew sick of the hostel. They were eager to accept me into their home once I did and treated me like a younger brother. “Then again, I guess sleeping on your air mattress isn’t exactly winning either.”
“I bet it beats a hostel though! And,” Elvia raises a fork full of eggs,” you get free food here. Only thing I want in exchange is that you promise me you’ll stop running away.”
“I’m not running from anything, El. I’m just trying to do the right thing.”
“I know you think you are, Jonathan, but let’s be real here. You go to Harvard. You were working on a Presidential campaign. People like us,” she pauses to motion to her husband, and then to me, “don’t get this kind of opportunity very often – we don’t get a seat at the table the way you’ve got one right now.”
“Fuck the table.”
“See, that’s what I’m talking about,” she says as Isaac reached across the table for her plate. He stacked it atop his own and carried the two to the kitchen sink. “I hear what you’re saying about your faith and religion and having principles – I get that. But what if they come to you and offer you your job back? If they offer to put you in a different locale, would you go back?”
“Exactly. You need to realize the opportunity you’ve got here, Jonathan. You can do a lot of good in the world if you learn to just play the fucking game.”
As she spoke, I simply nodded silently and watched her husband instead of maintain eyecontact with Elvia. Isaac returned to the table and placed a cup of tea infront of his wife. I can’t say whether it was watching them interact, sensing the deep love the two of them shared, or listening to her honest advice that ate at me more.
I wish the game had a pause button.
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Wednesday. 2.27.13 11:55 pm
Saturday. 2.23.13 2:38 pm
Friday. 2.22.13 11:23 am
“Megan is coming here tomorrow, team, and y’all all know how that’ll go. She’ll want to know why each of you decided to join the cause, so let’s go ‘round and give our answers,” Landry, my second campaign boss said to my new team in Petersburg, Virginia. It was about a month or two into my second round of campaigning, post-travels.
“I’ll start,” Landry continues. “I’m on this campaign because I believe in the candidate’s mission on education.”
“I’m here because of his healthcare policy – I think it’s really important and I feel like it will help a lot of people,” says the woman seated two chairs down.
“I’m here because I hate the republicans. I hate them. They’re just fucking terrible people. I can’t stand th—“
“Okay, we get it, Rahim. Jonathan, how about you?”
“Probably the free bagels.”
A lot of my co-workers felt like my boy Rahim did – they hated republicans. All of them. I’ve never felt the anger the way my co-workers did. The way I saw it, Democrats and Republicans were the beasts with two backs, together fucking my country into ineptitude. I figure that while both parties rely may rely on ignorance and vitriol to win political battles, the actual person behind the philosophy may not be so bad.
One of my best friends happens to be a republican.
*more later, promise.
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Tuesday. 2.19.13 11:57 pm
Wednesday. 2.13.13 11:57 pm
“I felt like they were asking me to condone him in my place of worship. It’s one thing for me to be out there,” I nodded to the outside window, “but to ask me to go out and campaign in church? I couldn’t make that jump. I did not want to have those two worlds mesh, you know?”
“I look at it the same way you look at torture,” I say to a re-emerging Dr. Kerber, turning my attention from his wife to him. “Remember the classes you’d talk about how it’s about who we are, as a nation, and whether or not we want to turn toward evil to accomplish potential good. I see his policy with drones the same way and I didn’t want to have to condone that shit—“ I cut myself off and covered my mouth sheepishly. I glanced around the elderly Jewish couple’s kitchen, taking note of the many African-themed artifacts decorating their home. Necklaces with fastened with beautiful jades and rubies to one side, creepy skulls and eerie masks to the other. “I’m sorry—for cursing, you know. I didn’t mean to.. you know,” I said aloud, more so to her than him.
“I wouldn’t condone that shit either,” Alessandra said with a smirk. “So the question now becomes—“
“Al, have you offered Jonathan anything to drink? I bet he wants coffee,” Dr. Kerber says as he takes a seat, having put Ted the dog outside. “And maybe a biscuit or two.”
“I’m actually not much of a coffee drinker. I would love some water, though.”
“Are you sure you don’t want coffee, Jonathan? I’m sure you want coffee. Al, go ahead and brew some coffee.”
Mrs. Kerber rolled her eyes and stood up.
I’m really not much of a coffee drinker. I jokingly refered to the beverage as the white man’s potion while campaigning because it seemed as though my co-workers could not function without it. Or, at least, they felt they couldn’t. In fact, the last time I drank coffee was maybe a week or so before I left the campaign.
Every morning before work I would go to a corner market in downtown Charlottesville to buy a handful of clementines. On this particular day, I bought an entire bag – maybe it was payday or something. Anyway, I left the bag on my desk, unopened, and went to the café next door.
Six or seven of my co-workers gathered around my desk when I came back to my office, eating my clementines. My pal Leah said that as white people, they were just exericising their natural inclination to colonize my desk.
“So the question becomes now,” Mrs. Kerber continued, “what do you do now? You can’t continue living on Amy’s couch.”
“I’m actually already off of Amy’s couch,” I neglect to tell them that I’m currently sharing a bunk bed at a hostel. The dude who sleeps below me tickles my feet when I snore to wake me up. “Sorry, mate, it’s just—you know, you sound like a triceratops,” he told me the first night. How he knew what sound a Triceratops didn’t strike me as odd at 3 AM in the morning so I just shrugged and went back to bed.
“And I’ve got a plan. I’m applying for jobs now, in D.C., New York, California… I reckon I’ll just stay in the District for a few days, then make my way West.”
“I’ll figure it out,” I hear myself say once more. “Don’t really have a choice, really.”
“Do you regret choosing to resign over going to church?”
“No. I thought I was doing the right thing, you know? I just… didn’t know that doing the right thing would also mean doing the dumb thing.” I sighed and sunk deeper into the chair. For a moment, I wished I actually were a triceratops – they know what their mission in life is: eat, sleep, and procreate. Come to think about it, Triceratops and the Snookie have a lot in common.
“I think I’m on the right path… I just wish that I knew I was doing the right thing in life right now.”
“The ultimate goal in life is to see life as it is as beautiful at the same time,” Dr. Kerber says after taking a sip of his coffee.
“Yeah, I’m not there yet. There’s just so much .. fucked up shit everywhere. Hatred, disenfranchisement, rape, genocide… when you’re a kid you don’t know none of that shit, right? But then you become exposed to it – you see what life truly is for a lot of people around the world. How can that be beautiful?”
“That’s the test, Jonathan. You have to find the beauty in life, while still recognizing all that you described is also a large component of the human condition as long as you’re cognizant of it… and then still see the world as a beautiful place.”
“.. Well, damn.”
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