..I met one of my biggest inspirations, politically speaking and in general: Senator John Kerry.
I know, I know..I am a total nerd for actually keeping track of the exact date and I know those of you reading this who aren’t “Kerrycrats” are probably sick to death of all the JK mentions in this blog, lol, but the good Senator and the inspiration he has provided for me, in terms of politics and just in general, is a huge, essential part of why I am here, doing this in the first place.
This actually happened in Boston, which I know deviates from the overall setting and theme of this blog, but again I feel it fits. I lived and went to school last year in the Northern Boston area (Andover/Methuen, where I actually was living, area).
I had already RSVP’d to the event–hosted by the Boston Area Young Democrats. The event was already scheduled to feature the Senator’s lovely daughter, Vanessa (who is a doctor in the Boston area and has done some pretty amazing things in her own right, including a lot of work with disadvantaged, uninsured people, etc). I had no idea her father would be there too, until literally the very last minute. I was in the computer lab in the library at school after class, checking my email on a whim before I headed out the door, when I saw a message from the event coordinator on Facebook, saying that the Senator would be there.
I nearly jumped out of my seat. I had never seen Senator Kerry in person before. I had hoped to see him at some point while in Massachusetts, especially since the 2010 campaign season was in full swing at that point, but the opportunity just had not been there, until this.
Though I was already looking forward to the event, this news propelled my excitement to all new levels.
I quickly whipped out my cellphone and called a cab to the Commuter Rail station in Andover. It was only a 5-10 minute ride but it felt like an eternity, especially considering the fact that if I missed that train, I’d have to wait over an hour for the next.
Now keep in mind that with the name of the venue, Whiskey Park, and with me still being a fairly newly minted tourist type ( I hadn’t even been there 2 months at that point), I took the park part literally and fully envisioned an actual rally in a park, with the potential of either not being able to get in or to be so far away, the Senator would resemble an ant (okay, an exaggeration I know…but still, I was anxious!:)).
Even though I got to the station in plenty of time, I nearly missed that train, as the little general store where they sell the Commuter Rail tickets there only accepted cash to buy them with and in my haste, I nearly forgot my ATM card pin number…but I made it, even if just barely!
When I arrived in Boston and in the general area of the venue nearly an hour later (between the Rail and the T), I searched fruitlessly for awhile more, still thinking I was looking for an actual park, until this British tourist kindly informed me of the fact that Whiskey Park was not an actual park, but a small club/restaurant within the Park Plaza hotel. Pretty much like a cocktail lounge type thing, fancy.
So as you can imagine, I felt very out of place in the attire I had arrived in: My “vintage” grey Kerry for President 2004 shirt that I got off of Ebay, jeans, light pink UGGS, and my navy blue “Cali Love” hoodie from Old Navy. Thankfully the event itself was quite laid back in terms of how most of the other Young Dems were dressed, though I still felt rather foolish that I had taken the locale description so literally!
It then occurred to me that I would be seeing Senator Kerry, my political idol, my inspiration, and one of my favorite people in general, not afar from a stage in a park (though that of course would’ve been awesome too), but within mere feet in a very small venue.
Under dressed as I admittedly was , I still could not believe my luck!
Vanessa and Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Christine, came in first. Vanessa appeared to be on the phone with someone, who just might’ve been her dad as he walked in, just minutes later.
I fully realize that I will sound like a fangirl here, but it was truly surreal when he walked in. Just seeing someone, in the flesh, that you have seen so often, for years, on TV, online, in magazines, etc. Especially someone you look up to and admire and support. (Yes, he is that tall in person! :))
He gave an electrifying pep talk, about the importance of the very much forthcoming midterm elections, how he thought we’d keep the Senate and “pray[ed] we keep the House” (fortunately at least part of his prediction came true!), and how he still felt like “a Young Democrat at heart”.
Then he proceeded to work the room. It was an amazingly casual setting, for an event with a United States Senator especially! There was a crowd around him at first, taking pictures and the like (I love how the press, conservatives, and even some fellow Democrats, unfortunately, often accuse the Senator of being “aloof”, or “wooden”, or boring, yet at every event like this and the ones I attended since, he is approached like a rock star ;)). Then he reached the area of the room near where I and my fellow (at the time) Boston area Kerrycrat Jennifer and her husband were standing.
The event coordinator was also standing right there. I whispered to him, asking if it was cool to just walk up to the Senator and speak.
He smiled, replying “Of course. I’m pretty sure he won’t bite” (haha :)).
Honestly, I forget exactly what I said as I was so caught in the moment and surprised (as I really didn’t expect to meet him the first time out), but I said something like “Hello, Senator” and introduced myself and he said something like “Hi, Tara, it’s nice to meet you” and shook my hand. I said something about being new to the area (and being so glad to have him for my senator now and he thanked me.
It was really quick (as he was on his way out, though he was very generous with the time he did have and his focus-he doesn’t just give “stock” answers, but focuses directly on you and what you are saying, etc) but extremely meaningful to and for me, for all the reasons I described earlier in this post. Though I went on to meet with him on three other occasions (which I will have to post about another time, as they deserve their own!) following this (I say this not to boast, but I am so thankful and each experience means so much to me, for all the reasons I described earlier) on which the exchange was longer and more detailed, I will always remember October 13th, 2010 and regard it as a date on which not only one of my dreams came true, but as a building block for where I am today and where I hope to continue my journey in the future–inspiration from a man who despite encountering several notable challenges along the way, has never stopped fighting for what he believes in. This inspires me for my own ‘fight’, my own purposes, my own journey.
Thank you, Senator Kerry.
This picture was actually taken in May of this year, at a different event in Boston, but I included it here just because.