I wish I had arrived two hours earlier; the crowd was in a massive line that extended 8 blocks from the statehouse, and there was still an hour and half wait time before the speech. A two-hour earlier head start could have, probably, given us the chance to actually see the man, in person, who could (who knows? it’s all up in the air!) become the President of the United States of America in only two days.
But, when you’re traveling with four boys, two of them small, sometimes you just have to roll with those kinds of punches. I think the boys would have went out of their minds if they had to wait two more extra hours from what was already a grueling maddening attempt to fight the crowd and “see.”
Not once did I lay eyes on the man. For some reason, that bothers me way more than it does my kids. Still, I tell myself, I heard the speech, I cheered with the crowd (some of the time), and I stood and waited and validated our right to choose. I hope as time passes on this day, these things will be enough for my mental scrapbook.
While he stood on the statehouse steps, we had our backs turned to him. We were facing the big screen, directly opposite him, where we could see him almost close-up. Still, even the screen was too low for even my kids to see. So, they sat in the grass and waited for it to be over. Then they started wrestling, rolling around and kicking each other.
This was my first, and what I hope will become my sons’ initiation into future, pep rallies. I didn’t really know what to expect; but I was brave, to head down there by myself, while my husband was busy conducting his own rally and speeches for his own company. But when an important man comes to town, less than 15 minutes from my house, I felt it was my patriotic duty to take the boys down to see the man.
We parked seven blocks away, on the south side of the statehouse, and the boys blissfully made the trek all the way to the statehouse without complaint. I carried one about 3/4 of the way, before he said he wanted to walk “all by himself.” The line to the statehouse formed on the north side of the statehouse and stretched for blocks; on the south side, there was no line, and we easily became part of the 60,000 mass that gathered on the statehouse lawn.
Here’s my first-time rally revelation: while I relished hearing the man make the promises in public, these are issues I prefer to ponder in isolation. The woman in the yellow shirt and jeans who stood directly to my left will vote for the same man as I voted for; but for very different reasons. Ditto for the man in the gray suit to my right. Your man may be my man; but in each of our hearts, he still stands for very different things. Subtle differences that are difficult to put into words; sometimes when you do, they lead to explosive arguments. I avoid arguments.
I waited for that euphoric feeling of unity with the crowd; but it never came. If we couldn’t see the man, I was at least expecting that I’d have made a connection with the masses. My experience fell a tiny bit short.
The cement sidewalks led us back to the car. With the older boys, it was easy to talk about our favorite brilliant lines from his speech; the ones that made us smile, and we rehashed them, laughing, all the way back home.
As I drove away from the downtown, I remembered the last time I was down here. It was July 3rd, 12years ago, and I was pregnant with my first. I navigated the firework-spectator crowd with my husband and my Mom. She was someone I would have loved to have texted from the statehouse lawn with “Guess where I’m at,” with a pix of the big screen. But instead, I do these kinds of things on my own now.
Overall, the boys were great. We got through the crowd without losing a soul, and moved fairly quickly from each city block to the next. I keep talking to them about what he said, and what we experienced, so they’ll grow up and remember and tell their kids. Now that we’re all safely home, tucked into bed, I realize that the unity and connection I was looking for was right here among these boys, all along.