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State House

November 14, 2009

[originally written 2008]

Warm, yellow, light wraps its arms around me. Almost gently whispering, encouraging, a distant dream that I crawl towards on scraped hands and knees. Warm, yellow, light raises me to my feet, an arm around my shoulders, it provides support, absorbs my chills and uncertainty. It bounces off the marble floors, as if it pours straight down from the high rise dome. Softly encouraging a path not clearly marked, pointing out how far I have come already. In the warmth and embrace of its arms, I can set aside the doubt and appreciate the grace of this house, the pages bound in maroon, the decades of framed photographs, and picture the rocking chairs on the balcony. Surely wide-eyed, and infatuated with the architecture, the people, the issues, even the coffee in the Styrofoam cup he hands me. Reluctant to depart, but encouraged and uplifted. A loosely connected goal dancing in the distant future. For a moment, I could almost reach out to it, in the warmth of the yellow light.

I find the steps myself this time. The clank of my heels almost familiar, but the Appropriations sign hangs above my head, and I have to spiral up one more flight. A sea of faces, I scan for familiar ones, but I find none, so I take a seat in between. In between the House and the Senate.

This time I don’t notice the light of the third floor, until we travel down a floor or two, stopping in the doorway of a darker hallway. A familiar face, and it takes me a little while to place why. A familiar con law issue, and it takes me a minute to remember why. A familiar admin term, and I know why. We pass through the doorway. Upstairs, I now have a friendly face to sit with, a reassurance that I understand more than I think I do, and a place in a conversation about a Bill I had never heard of. Sitting between two attorneys, I am not an attorney. Do I want to sit here as an attorney?

When they depart, I am left to watch my own thoughts run a treadmill race. Division into legislators and onlookers. I am somewhere in between. Lost in a sea of their pilot language, I try to translate with involuntarily squinted eyes. I know the importance of understanding the language, understanding the process, even if I never plan to stand in their place. I do not want to stand where they stand. Do I want to stand beside them – not on the floor, but in theory – helping to shape the conversation?

We leave for lunch, and I willingly sink into the familiar, concaved, red couch and look around. A coffee machine that that leaks water, books filled with rainbow highlights, and a hanger that probably once had a home in the car. Familiarity became an understatement as soon as we passed through the doorway. I wait for a comment about the lack of protein in my lunch, but he lets it pass. We let our conversation wander. To others it may seem like our own pilot language, but this one comes naturally for me, no need to translate. With two people it seems impossible to sit in between, but even when an additional friendly face arrives, I’m not worried about the in between.

At the end of the day, I’m not sure where I belong, but not I’m entirely lost either. At least I can find my way to the stairs.

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