I was barely 21 years old.
A version of this piece was featured on Medium's Politics vertical. Check it out here.
This photo pops up in my Facebook memories each Fourth of July. The scene is central Florida’s Clearwater Beach on Independence Day 2008. I had moved to the Tampa area just a few days prior for my first job in politics: Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency.
I was barely 21 years old.
I’m making my way home.
Though I'm not particularly sure where I'll end up.
I have a hunger to have a fixed place, a stable relationship, a routine.
But I just… haven’t found something that makes me really want to stay put. I’ll find it eventually.
For now I’m hanging out in Austin, Texas. I’ve taken up residence in the guest room of two dear friends.
Yesterday we rollicked through a rural Texas ranch. I inquired about the location of the bathroom, a woman responded, ‘oh, everyone’s just peeing outside.’
Something ended this evening.
And that’s ok, it was supposed to.
It was a play -- my first acting performance in many years.
The audition opportunity floated into my conciousness by way of conversation.
“Are you auditioning for ‘33 Variations?’” My friend inquired.
“I don’t know… is there a role for me?” I replied.
It just so happened that the local theater was looking for someone to play a flaky chick between the ages of 20 and 30. Not a difficult character for me to inhabit, if you catch my drift.
I dusted off an old audition monologue, that interestingly, was still pretty well-memorized after a long stretch of disuse. Harper’s plane speech from Angels in America.
This piece was cross-posted from Girlboss.com. My first freelance endeavor... an essay on failure.
I’m 30 years old and I live in my childhood bedroom. This is not how I envisioned my thirties would begin.
When I was 21, I was ambitious and successful. My first full-time job was as a researcher for then-Senator Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency. I moved through a series of enviable Washington jobs during my twenties, the likes of which I had dreamed of ever since I declared my political science major.
I worked to pass the Affordable Care Act in the US House of Representatives and served as a presidential appointee to the US Environmental Agency (EPA). I was successful in my career of choice and I was on an upward trajectory. The only problem was that I didn’t actually like the work.
About a year ago, I participated in a staged reading of a play called, “Love, Sex and Anarchy.”
I read a number of characters, and the one that I recall the most… I don’t actually remember her name.
This character, my character, was visiting her husband in jail. My fellow actor and I had to speak to each other under our breath… create the sounds of muffled voices, but not actually distract from the primary action of the scene. We spoke to each other, in character, inventing the lines that a husband and wife might speak to each other.
We were background characters, background noise.
I was pulled away from my husband by the prison guard at the end of this imagined conversation and I told him I loved him. And he said it back. It was all in the reality of the scene. I truly don’t remember my fellow actor’s name, what I do remember is looking a stranger in the eyes and telling him that I loved him. It was earnest, and it was quiet and it was just for our characters. Or maybe it was for us?
That’s all I have for now. A lovely little something.
“…This is not about me…this is… about men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction and everyone who will drift home tonight, crest-fallen because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable. “ – Katie Makkai, Pretty
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