Back to the State House Halls

His grey eyes darted around the conference room full of representatives as he walked to the table at the head of the room. “I’m glad you’re finally having me,” he muttered to his shoes.

I watched him place his dusty brief case and belongings on the table and fix his strange mustache. It drooped to the base of his mouth in a way that would have been comical had I any reason to believe it was intentional. He was slim and breakable and seemed to be held together by a fine line of glue or maybe a final string that he prayed would never be cut. He introduced himself as Representative Brown* and hurdled into his concerns with the divorce system and the various horrors he had been through, regarding feeling ignored and deprived of information. His story continued for ten minutes before the Chair gently reminded him that he was there to introduce a bill and she didn’t see how his experience connected to its description. He sighed and assured her he just needed to continue a bit and he’d get there. He never did get there.

Thirty minutes after his entrance, several committee members had attempted to channel his focus, only to receive frustrated replies that “no, no, no it’s okay with the system we have” confirming he had no interest in the context of his bill. When he was eventually thanked for his time and asked to allow others to speak, he walked off with dejected murmurs that “I’m sorry I couldn’t say everything I wanted to…thanks for what?”

The encounter was poignant and terrible and oddly sacred in its rawness. The gentleman had an incredible story. I haven’t discovered it all yet (I hope to have more for you eventually), but there is no doubt in my mind that he has had astounding, heart wrenching experiences that deserve and need to be acknowledged. As frustrating as it was, I loved the way he insisted there was a point he had to get to. It was a story that needed to not only be told, but to be truly listened to. Isn’t that the most beautiful idea? I’m obsessed with stories and the feeling that they need to be heard. My fingers itch not only in libraries but on busy streets and outside broken store fronts. On internship days, I soak in the delight of having the sole job of listening and understanding and occasionally discussing what I believe to be true. My representatives allow me to watch in silence and observe from hundreds of perspectives.

The committee was incredible in their attempts to find its relevancy and did their jobs beautifully, but it was their conversations in the hallways and their kindness that impressed me the most. I discovered truly brilliant people live life like it’s a painting. They never assume to know anything and instead gently ask if maybe sometimes we need to stop looking at the bigger picture to appreciate the finer details? They dedicate their lives to spending more time listening than speaking and to appreciating each individual for the compilation of experiences that make them unique.

I’m still working on grasping some of the cases I’ve heard over the past week – dealing with framings, horrendous accusations and abuse – and I really don’t feel qualified to offer my input on them at this point. The details in the painting are fuzzy and painful, but they’ll become sharper and more approachable. There’s so much I’d like to say, but I’m going to do some more research before I make judgments. In the meantime, I’d like to share a quote from a testimony. I can’t confirm the veracity of a lot of what he said, but I think there’s something true and very scary here.
“I walked in thinking if I tell the truth justice goes with that.”
“An attorney said to me, ‘welcome to my world where the best liar wins.'”
*name changed for privacy

(PS This was a classic, unedited quick write. I apologize for any errors.)

Dear 2014

Dear 2014,

When I first met you last January, I had everything under control. I’d reorganized my room, painted my nails, made new goals (that I promptly forgot), and done all the stupid little things that made me feel like a person who knew what she was doing.

But, inevitably, that couldn’t last.

There were days when I wasn’t sure I’d survive to see you out. There was mourning and health concerns and questionable decisions. There were big trips and equally big disappointments. But here I am. In the end, maybe we both won or we both lost, but all I know is that on January 1st you will be a memory – a crazy, stressful, painful, messy, beautiful memory – and I will walk on. Maybe I won’t be the same as I was when I met you, but I’m okay with that.

As much as you drove me crazy, 2014, you were also the year of unconventional beauty. I had amazing opportunities and I poured my heart into them. I danced thousands of miles from my home town – and, yeah, sure it wasn’t on a fancy stage and maybe there was a creepy, drunk, old Asian man filming me, but it was a moment I’d dreamed about and finally got to live. It was beautiful in its own way. It was also the year I danced in barn aisles with cancer patients and laughed until my sides hurt, which might have been even better. I learned what it means to suffer beautifully and the “art” of loss, neither of which feel very pretty. But thanks to you, 2014, I found an amazing community online who laughed with me and commiserated on the challenges of terrible teachers and life in general. They got me through it. I connected with people I hadn’t talked to for years or had never met at all. I found support from the strangest places and learned not to place too much reliance in other places. I questioned myself a lot. Like a lot. I mean, I cleaned out everything I’ve ever written from the blog, and I’m just kind of praying to eventually come up with something better. (Don’t feel too smug, 2014. It will come. You haven’t defeated me.) But in the end, I got to the right track. I’m making things up as I go and loving the music it makes. I’m relearning how to breathe and rediscovering myself at the same time. I’m finding out that I have strength I never knew about, but that sometimes it’s okay to be weak, too. Sprinters, walkers, crawlers – they all make it to the finish line eventually.

Thanks for all the good and letting me grow through the bad.

Sayonara , 2014,
Erin

“And this too shall pass.”
“A new year is on the way and the possibilities are endless.”