There She Was
Yesterday evening I went to a Clinton fundraiser. Chelsea spoke about her mom. It wasn’t too large a gathering. Maybe 100 folks. She stood on the back porch as we all clutched our drinks in the yard. She talked about growing up acutely aware of the disconnect between the woman her fathers’ opponents painted Hillary to be — absent and uncaring, failing her duties as a mother — and the woman who was actually raising her — present and loving and engaged, home for dinner most nights. Someone who made her feel proud, at ten years old, to not only know what the legal aid society was, but to be the daughter of the woman who ran it.
When I was ten years old I watched Ann Richards give the key note at the democratic national convention. There she was in that brilliant blue. Silver haired, fiery tongued, talking with the same twang as me. They’d cut to a wide shot and it looked like she was sitting on top of the world. I’ll never forget how that image made me feel. We weren’t so different, Ann and me, save for a few dozen years. Clearly I could do anything.
Not long after that, Chelsea was in the White House. I remember that picture of her, sitting on the floor of the screening room in front of her dad, Ann next to him, all of them watching the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. Chelsea holding her cat. And I remember that video clip that played on a loop, Chelsea between her parents, holding their hands, walking across the south lawn to Marine One with a huge smile plastered on her face as they headed off to vacation and far from the press corps desperate for dirt on Monica and that dress. My folks were divorced by that point. It had been a long, often unpleasant separation. I couldn’t imagine what it must feel like to go through such family trauma in public.
Then last night, there she was, twenty something years later, grown with two children of her own, standing on that porch confident and thoughtful and passionate, telling stories of love and commitment to each other and our communities. And there I was, in a backyard belonging to the head of Showtime, with friends and colleagues, some of whom I watched in the movies and on the TV when I was a little girl, daydreaming of doing such things myself. All of us held in rapt attention by this woman who I had grown up alongside. Knowing her not. Feeling this unshakable simpatico anyway.
It’s been a long time since I’ve slept well, or had a dream I remembered. But last night I had a vivid one. I dreamt that Hillary and I hung out in Yosemite. She was lovely and fun and kind and warm and I kept wishing she were my mom. I woke up with the feeling of a smile on my face, checked my phone and found there an email from one of my dearest friends, who was getting excited to knock doors for Hillary in Nevada for GOTV.
Ten year old me will spend the next 18 days reminding 38 year old me how beautiful the future can be.