20 years ago in August I moved into my dorm at Moravian College. It’s now Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA, which underscores the point I’m making. I was 19, kind of a mess, and basically had a very unsophisticated world view. I was totally unaware of the changes that were going to take place in my life in just those coming weeks. I would get mono at the end of my first week of cross-country practice, and would never participate in an organized sporting event again, after winning seven varsity letters as a high school athlete. One day I would come home from practice and find a flier on my building door to intern on the Ed Rendell for Governor/Ed O’Brien for Congress/PA Dems coordinated campaign. The phone call I made to the number on that sheet of paper would begin the 20 year career I’m still working on today. Within those last two weeks of August, my childhood and previous obsessions would end, and my adult life would begin with lots of bumps and bruises along the way.
Two weeks ago, as I stood in MetLife Stadium watching the Red Hot Chili Peppers rock out like it was 1998 again, I was reminded- all that was, will be again. You don’t know how things will end ahead of time, but you can bet all things run in a loop. I mean hell, the biggest rock band in the country in 2022 was also the biggest in 1998. When I moved in at Moravian I was 6’1” and 175 pounds- and despite eventually ballooning up as high as 265 pounds in 2009, today I’m 6’1” and 175 pounds. Like I said, all that was, will be again, even if it makes no sense how.
So those last 20 years, a lot happened. I did go to college and graduate. I worked for two U.S. Presidents, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I went to three inauguration celebrations and served as a delegate to the 2020 national convention. I got to meet, shake hands with, and talk to the President of my formative years, Bill Clinton, and to go see another President of my childhood, George H.W. Bush, lay in state at our Capitol. I worked for the first Black woman in Congress from New Jersey. I got to work for a Bosnian war refugee. There are ten current and former U.S. Senators on my resume. I served a term on the Democratic State Committee, and as a township auditor. Politics has taken me to the South, the Midwest, the West, and all across the MidAtlantic. My life choice twenty years ago has been really good to me. I can’t complain very much about it.
I must admit though that I had reached the point of feeling kind of burnt. The 2020 campaign left me extremely jaded, not with the guy I had worked for, but with my career and my life. Going home for Covid, and staying home after inaugurating the guy, definitely had a negative impact on me. I’m old enough to be at peace with who I am, but I guess I thought at some point there’d be a different ending. I decided over the last 20 years to forego so many of the “real life” experiences of my friends- buying a house, building a family, being a “respectable adult.” It has begun to dawn on me that doing that hadn’t really made enough people appreciate me, least of all myself.
I finally kind of “got it” earlier this year, and started putting some work into myself. I’m happy with where it’s put me. I formed a couple of LLC’s, learned to write direct mail, and spent a lot of time just trying to plot some sort of future course, because I have not had anything resembling a plan in 15 years. I now can say I have a pretty decent idea of what kind of work I want to do moving forward, and it’s not whatever pays. I feel much better. And the last boss who disrespected me? She got fired this Summer. I’m not taking credit, but I’m not apologizing either. I guess for me, stepping back was stepping forward.
In all seriousness though, the most important thing I’ve learned in 20 years is choose who you surround yourself with wisely. I spent a chunk of my last trip to DC two weeks ago getting drinks with the guy who gave me my first serious, paying campaign job, planning out future collaboration. I’m writing mail for a long-time friend who I first worked with 15 years ago. I’m setting up companies with accomplished people that come from the same school of thought as me, top quality people. I’m excited again, like I was 20 years ago. There’s a little more uncertainty in me, and that’s a worry, but I’ll survive it. I think the future has a chance to be bright again. I wasn’t sure of that six months ago. But all that was, will be again.