Project Wonderful

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do...

Press Play.
This won't work now the way it once did, cause I want to decide between survival and bliss.Now I know who I'm not,I don't I still don't know who I am, but I know I won't keep on playing the victim.These precious illusions in my head did not let me down when I was defenseless and parting with them is like parting with invisible best friends.

Not counting the Edwards campaign, I've had my heart broken three times and been broken up with twice. The first time, I decided to join the CIA. I fell in love with campaigning during my security clearance and never looked back. The second time, I went on another campaign. The third time, I decided it was time to apply to grad school and a year and a half later, here I am.

Within two weeks, I will sign a lease in New York City. In a month, I will have started school. I will cook for myself. I will sleep regular hours. When I do date it will be with more intention than I have been lately. I feel like I'm signing a contract to become an adult.

I feel like I'm breaking up with campaigns. Intellectually I've known it was over for months. That's why I started this blog. In practice I haven't worked on a race since November and that was only for a few weeks. But the option was still there. I could have picked up and driven to Wisconsin on a moment's notice. And now, not.

More than anyone I've ever dated, campaigns have been the love of my life. They were there for me when boys weren't. They were there for me when I was sick. They challenged me, they helped me find a sense of purpose. They have become a huge part of how I define myself. They've been my crutch and my security blanket. As Alanis would say, parting with them is like parting with invisible best friends.

Still, for all the things I'm losing, I might as well resign myself to try and make a change. What alcohol is to Homer Simpson, campaigns have been to Nancy Leeds: the cause and the solution of all life's problems. I've met the plurality of people I've dated while working on campaigns. Campaigns have given me solace after a break up, but they've also made it impossible for me to have a viable long-term relationship. They've been both a way to take my mind off sickness and the source of my least healthy habits. They've provided an endless source of excitement and a gaping lack of stability.

I once heard a This American Life in which Starlee Kine asks her ex-boyfriend why she's always the one being broken up with and he replies "because you never leave first." This isn't the first unhealthy relationship I've been in, but since campaigns can't leave me, it's the first one in which I've had to do the breaking. When you're really in love, I think it's a bigger burden to be the breaker than the breakee. You'll never quite know what could have been and if you wind up regretting it you only have yourself to blame. In a way it's almost brave. You're giving up something you know can be good for the promise of something better.

I looked around, thought about what I want in my life and realized that,for me, the campaign lifestyle wasn't sustainable. I'm proud that I had the courage and the wisdom to make that decision but that doesn't mean there's nothing to mourn.

I could say maybe in a couple years, who knows what will happen, but I don't want to lead myself on. In three years we both will have changed so much we'll barely recognize each other. When I do become involved again, it will be in a totally different capacity. I'm hoping we'll still be friends, but that's gonna be hard without falling back in. Maybe I'll find somewhere to volunteer once I've licked my wounds a little.

So yeah, I'm listening to wistful music. I'm trying out a new look (contacts). I'm surrounding myself with friends during the transition. You know, keeping busy. I may even go down to DC and recruit some of my former bro-workers to wax nostalgic with me before the big move. Typical break up stuff.

Field Organizing has been my constant companion since I graduated college. I'm sad and slightly afraid of losing my defense mechanism. I'm going to miss campaigns tremendously. I'm excited to start the next chapter in my life, but I'm going to feel this one for a long time. It's become a part of me and that's okay. That's good. That's how you know it was worth it.

Better to have loved and lost,


  1. Here's the what you have to ask yourself: What happens when, Doctorate on the wall, 9-5 job, wife and 2.5 whinny Jewish babies have all happened and campaigns send some young hot organizer to your door...

    It starts as volunteering, but can that be enough? You show up for call time, and there's all these cute young energetic kids running around like chickens with their head cut off. Talking like they are the change they believe in. So hot and young and idealistic. Do you scoff at their foolishness, or do you Mid-life Crisis it up?

    I thought I was way done with campaigns, I was through with that racket, the fear, the constant effort, the constant let downs, the pain and anguish. The lack of subtlety and nuance in the message. I was over it.

    And yet I got the call, and I came running. I keep telling myself even now that I'm done. I'm just in Wisconsin for the moment, for this cycle. For this race, but there's always the next one.

    Good luck! I envy your ability to escape the game. I can't seem to do it, I guess I'm more damaged and used to dysfunction. Who knows. I know she's the worst life-partner in the world. She's a workaholic alcoholic, horribly unreliable mistress, but I just can't quit campaigns.

  2. Oh believe, I've backslid many times. Like any long term relationship the first break up doesn't stick. As for the young hot organizer...