Like most of America, I was dazzled by President Obama’s speech to Congress last week. I was amazed by what I saw: an executive branch seeking a partner in the legislative branch and the advocates for progress outside of the government, a chief executive who seems to sincerely want to make things better for the people who need it, and a President who inspires me. More than at any other point in these past months, I found myself excited in a bittersweet way – sad for having missed this time in Washington and the opportunity to see the change first-hand, but thrilled to get back to DC to witness it, and participate in it myself. When I asked a close friend and colleague what the biggest change has been in our work, he answered, “well, you know how we basically worked with Congress before? Now there’s a second branch of government that returns our calls.” This observation was simple, but also startling: I honestly come up short when I try to imagine exactly what working with the executive branch as a partner, rather than a foil, will be like. But I am beyond excited to find out.
Considering these past month's incredible changes, I can’t help but wonder how I have changed as well. When I return to DC on Friday, I will have been away for just under four months. I wonder, what conscious and unconscious changes have taken place within me? Will it be hard to pick up my life in Washington, up where I left it? Do I want to resume my life just the way I left it? And what changes have taken place in my DC worlds while I was gone? What changes will have taken place within my office? Amongst the coalitions I work with? What new strategies are being employed by the left now that the hills we're climbing are a little less steep? Will my social circles have shifted? Will my friendships pick up just where they left off, or will things feel different? How much have Gabe and Miriam grown? I wonder about the smaller changes as well. Do I have new neighbors? Will my favorite neighborhood shops and restaurants still be there? Have they fixed the traffic light at Connecticut and Florida Ave yet? Did Mr. Yogato add any new flavors?
I'm excited to report that I'll have answers to some of my question soon enough. I hope the positive changes that the entire city, and our whole nation is experiencing these days, set me on the right path, as well.