Mr. Mayor

CheneyFriendship, On Life0 Comments

I wrote at length last month about how I got involved with Daryl’s campaign for Mayor of New London, Connecticut, and this past Tuesday all of the hard work involved by me and hundreds of other campaigners came to an end. I already spoiled the ending to this story – he won, but there is so much more to it than that – so much, unfortunately, that I feel like the ship has already sailed when it comes to recapping it all and giving myself a definitive record for what this has meaned to me and others. (I am trying SO hard to be better at this.)

Last Thursday, I wrote Daryl a letter and addressed it to his house, hoping he would get it and have a chance to read it before election day. Daryl’s husband, Todd, assured me that he DID get my letter on Monday and was very touched and didn’t really know what to say to me in thanks. It was a serious letter.

I wrote to him that, in a nutshell, joining his campaign as a volunteer has completely changed my life. And it has, that is true. It really has. 

I’ve been “political” for quite some time, as you might notice once in a while on m Tumblr, and by the lineup of classes I took when I was in college. Had I continued with school, I would certainly have wanted to transfer to get a degree in either American Studies or Poly Sci, because that is just what I am interested the most in, besides writing, of course. But I dropped out, and that’s another story.

ANYWAY, I had never worked on a campaign before. I never knew how exciting and thrilling it could really be. I guess I just never believed that hard work could be rewarded in such a way as to prove that this world is a magical place filled with like minds and love that are hidden in plain sight, and are hidden in abundance. Yeah, the letter I wrote was wishy-washy and maybe a little bit weird, and selfish, too. Really, it was me telling Daryl what his campaign meant to me, and likewise what he meant to so many young people in New London. 

I told him that whether or not he won the election, he’d already won in my eyes, and the eyes of his supporters. He’d already brought change to New London by making so many people open their eyes and wake up to the issues and for the first time actually DO SOMETHING about them. That’s a victory that anyone would be proud of, in my opinion. 

Here are Alisha and I on primary night, which was September 13th. Alisha is being lifted up off the ground by a little old dude named Jake, and I’m about to be enveloped by Laura – both of whom we met in just the first few days of campaigning. Now I call Jake and Laura friends, because they are, because they are our people – like so many others – the first gift that Daryl gave me. 

That’s what I’m not about to get over. Here we were, Alisha and I, exhausted after being out holding signs, waving at cars, hoping that people were going to the polls to vote for the man we thought would be the best in charge. We didn’t have to do it, we didn’t get paid for it, but we did it anyway, with so many other smart, thoughtful, compassionate beautiful people that are now friends, literally, for life. There’s something about standing on streetcorners with people that gives you a bond like no other – I can’t really explain it, but finding a common bond between strangers, striving for a common goal just DOES SOMETHING to people. It pulls them together, and as crunchy as this sounds, I feel like it pulls our energy together, too, like we are one person, one big Finiziatic. Here’s the funny thing about this picture – we were waiting at a bar downtown for Daryl to come in and announce whether he won the primary or not. We were just happy to be there together. And then? Then there was this moment:

And the rest became my history. I went to all the forums for city council and Board of Ed. I went to a Democratic Town Commitee meeting, I went to the mayor forums, I went to the debates, I went to nearly every event that Daryl participated in in the following months. I got to know his platform like the back of my hand so that when I wore my button in public and people asked me about him, I could give an intelligent and thoughtful answer – and then give them the button right off my shirt.

I stood on streetcorners in the dark with other like-minded “crazies” getting high off the honks and thumbs up that we got, even as my toes started to freeze and my nose started to drip.

I posted constantly in our volunteer group on Facebook, reminding people about events and getting more people to volunteer. 

I went down to the Democratic Town Commitee Headquarters and made phone calls to voters, reminding them about the elections and offering rides to the polls, then setting up transportation for a bunch of elderly people who otherwise would not have made it.

On Monday night, I played my first game of Dungeons & Dragons, and then dragged Brian out with me to conduct a super secret stealthy mission of hanging Finzio door hangers on the doors of strangers, hoping they will come out and vote for Daryl in the morning.

And then the day came. I had already told my boss I wouldn’t be coming to work, and I got up Tuesday morning, dressed in two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, three layers and stepped out the door, only to find that the day had dawned bright and beautiful, and unseasonably HOT for November, and had to go change all of my clothes again. I dropped off a tuna noodle salad at Daryl’s house, and got my butt down to Harbor School where I stood with my sign, waving at cars for four hours straight until I finally broke for some food and a sit down, but was back at it again right after, and aside for an hour when I went to go pick up my friend Brad so that I could bring him out to the polls to vote, I was on corners all day, surrounded by strangers who had become friends, surrounded by other campaigners who were rooting for the other guy (and giving us serious anxiety due to the sheer number of them) but I was out there all day. And it was one of the most exciting, rewarding, and best days of my life. 

At eight o’clock, we were down at Dev’s on Bank, the restaurant hosting Daryl’s election night party. I piled in there with friends, old, new, best, and hardly, there had to be a few hundred of us in a room meant for far fewer, and I chugged, I mean CHUGGED a beer and sat down in one of the few chairs on the side of the room. I sat there, slightly moaning, my feet screaming at me for standing on them all day, which i something I am not used to – and then my friend Natalie came up to me.

Natalie had been the one to gather the premiliminary votes from Harbor School, where we had been at most of the day. Harbor was one of three polling locations, and Daryl’s numbers there were staggering. I don’t remember them exactly, but he had some 800 votes at that school and the closest competitor had less than 400. And in that moment, I knew we’d won. WE WON.

You might be able to watch Daryl’s victory speech here, but I will embed it once it’s on YouTube. He thanked everyone, he reminded people that we ran a clean campaign that didn’t owe anyone anything, and reminded us also that this was only the beginning – there is so much more work to be done. I’ll have to watch the video again myself, because his words were lost in a blur of hugs and kisses and cheers – and then we went downstairs to the bar to party.

I was jammed in with friends and other campaigners, brushing up with former mayors and current State Representatives, getting beers bought for me and Dan by a guy who turns out to be the guy who just might be New London’s next Superintendent of schools (shhhh) and then I stole a moment with Todd.

 

Aren’t we just precious? Todd is Daryl’s husband, and one of the things I neglected to blog about in the last month and a half is that Todd is one of the best new friends I have made in years. We met one night after some event, I can’t even remember now whether it was a forum or debate, and he leaned over a table to me and said “I want to party with you,” and what better way could a friendship begin? He came to Alisha’s a week later and we drinked and ate the night away, and it turns out that Todd and I have more things in common than I do with most people I’ve met in years, including a love of books (particularly YA paranormal!) and writing, and learning, and television (particularly soap operas!) and generally having a good time. While I value all of the friendships I’ve made over the course of the campaign, I feel like Daryl running for mayor has next to nothing why Todd and I are really friends now, if you know what I mean. You know those people that you meet and they just feel like old friends? That’s Todd. 

I just wanted to share that picture because it’s adorable and leads me to the end of my story. At Dev’s on election night, I gave Daryl a quick hug and congratulated him, got a nice picture taken with him that I’ve yet to see posted on Facebook, and we parted ways. He’s a busy busy man. 

Last night, I went over to Todd & Daryl’s house to exhange books with Todd and catch up on American Horror Story with him. In the course of the evening, we got a little tipsy, and then started munching on leftover election day date bread – I INSISTED that it would be better toasted with butter, so Todd dragged a little geriatric toaster that looks like it was made in the forties down from a shelf and got me going – so there I was, bleary eyed and peckish in my socks, waiting for my toast to toast, and Daryl walks in with his new exectutive assistant and transistion team leader. 

He looked at me, he laughed at me, and then he put his hands on my shoulders and leaned in to look me in the eyes. 

“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you.” 

But I shot those words right back at him. How could I not, for what meeting him has brought into my life? How could I ever stop thanking someone, or start repaying someone, for such irreplacable gifts?

Feel like sharing some thoughts?