Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yes, when saying "I do" I knew I was marrying a Coastie

And I am happy as a clam about that.

Brad worked last night. I invited a mutual friend for dinner, and we feasted on a meal that Brad cannot/would not eat due to his diet. For my unnamed friend, I made smoke chops, mac and cheese, corn, and salad. Our friend polished off 3/4 of the wine, half a bottle of crown, and smoked four cigars.

At the dinner table, we spoke of books, dancing, music (I had the Big Band music channel on in the background), and politics. The more I spoke, the more his eyebrows raised. He learned a lot about me that evening; when in my own home, I feel more comfortable speaking of political matters, religious beliefs, travels, talents. He conveyed his love for boxing, his nom de plume, and his time in the FL legislature and on the Hill as a lobbyist. We spoke of the upcoming elections, the books written by the major and minor contenders, etc. As we digested, we took to the fresh air and the incoming cloud cover.

While out on the back porch, smoking cigars and telling tall, tall, tales, he spoke up, in a rare but all too true, honest moment. He started, "if you repeat this, I will deny I ever said it. How serious are you about running for office?"

"Well, I have toyed with the idea for a while. I anticipate having more time on my hands when we move next. In a smaller town, perhaps I could run from town council. You know, start small and work my way up."

"Don't start small. Aim big. Go for the state legislature. You would be killer in the state legislature. With your looks, your background, and your debate mastery, you would be very successful. But, you would have to stay in that area for a while to build credibility."

I replied with a shrug, and gave him the look of, "Well, that depends on where the USCG sends Brad and you."

"Don't get me wrong: Brad is a great, great, great guy. But you know that as long as you stayed married to him, you will not succeed politically." I paused. I thought about lashing out, defending our marriage, laundry listing why marrying him was the best decision I ever made, etc.

But instead, simply, I replied, "I love him, and he makes me happy."

My guest gave me a shrug and an a semi eye-roll that could summed up as, "Well, you are an idiot." I changed subjects.

In three years of marriage, this is the second time someone reflected on my marriage with such audacity that it damaged my regard for the person. I was so hurt by that comment. Why would I leave Brad to stumble blindly down the political path-- to court potential donors, to appease constituents at every turn, to defend all my past, youthful actions? Brad grounds me. He supports me. If I ran for town council, he would support the goal. He would not be painting my rally signs, but he would hug me and hold me when I came home from a day of campaigning. He would give me the calm I seek after a day of pushing forward with this exhaustive, extrovert personality inside me.

If I had not met and married my beloved husband, I would not be in DC or even the US. I would be in Africa. I would be in Europe. I would be a traveling eco activist, desperately trying to make the world a better place. I would have more "free" time to pursue those passions that raise me from ym slumber each day.

Currently, I do act upon those passions. I volunteer, organize, write letters and grants, and proceed to say, "YES!" to as much as possible without damaging my health. I do not have the "freedom" to fly to Kenya to help resolve the current crisis. But, I am working with USIP on a project to use hip hop to act as a communication tool among the rival tribes. I try to balance: happy marriage, happy passionate outlets. I try to have my cake and eat it, too.

So, I ask, why can't I be a successful, local politician while still coming home to my Coastie everyday? I am not aiming for the White House or the Hill. Trust me, if I had the financial backing and the gumption, then maybe. But even still: maybe.

But you know what, I love coming home and having the stability as a happily married woman. I have a husband who worships me, tells me to have a great time as I head to an event without his escort, cuddles me when I come home and tells me he missed me, has dinner cooked each day as I come home from work, and intently listens to me ramble in complete acronyms.

Why would I give that "up" to cope with leaders who solicit sex in bathroom stalls, who decry change but refuse to implement a domestic agenda, and who fall victim to beaucractic red tape each time a sticky situation presents itself for solution?

Could I really make that much of a difference? Would it be worth it?

Seeing the smile on his face when he pulls into port-- no, it is not worth it. My name is Christina, and I am a Coastie wife.


Just a Girl in a Port said...

Way to put our lives in perspective. Beautiful. I couldn't have said it any better and I wouldn't try.


Lainy said...

Drive, ambition, tenacity and brains. You'll succeed beautifully in this CG life...and when that's over think how much fun your husband will have being the first-husband?

Who I Am said...

I'm impressed with your ability to keep things in perspective. Thank you for sharing this story. It says a lot about our lives and how they change.

You should run for a local position, a lot of small towns need some "new blood".

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I'm facing the end of my CG career, sooner than later, in order to do "only" the wife and mother gig. In my head I'm good with it; in my heart I struggle because it's a part of how I identify myself. But my husband loves HIS CG career more than I probably ever will, and so I'll support him, and follow him, and probably "waste" my advanced degree... but I don't think it'll bother me, because I have him. I guess it's just nice to see I'm not the only one!