Tonight I left my class and I didn’t go to work. Instead I went and met my mom and my little girl and had dinner and a conversation.
She was happy and talkative and the worry that I’ve been feeling balled up in my chest dropped away. School is okay. She started Sparks and that was fun too. We’re getting back into our routine.
And I think it was exactly what I needed. I got readings done, I got my assignment done, I’m moving forward. There are now less than four weeks in the campaign. It doesn’t seem like a long time. Twenty six days from today change is coming. It’s in the air. And we have no idea what it will look like. But we’re making history.
The other day I saw one of my colleagues from my time on the Hill. He’s been traveling with the leader so I hadn’t seen him yet, and he asked me if I was having fun. And I paused and then quickly said yes. I am.
I am back to doing something I love doing for a cause that I have to believe in. I am making a difference, and working my way towards making more of a difference.
Tonight I feel like it’s all good. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.
I’m working 50 plus hours a week. I have 12 hours of classes. I’ve got readings to do, and assignments. I’ve got to move from place to place, eat occasionally. Oh, and sleep. Sometimes I get to see and talk to my kid, though not enough. We’re both struggling there.
I spend most of my days stressed out, thinking about what else I could be doing, grumpy, tired and stressed.
But underlying all of that is the feeling that I am doing something important. Well, I’m doing one thing that’s important for me and one thing that’s important in general.
Underlying all of that is this feeling that I’m on the cusp of change. I am getting ready to hit bottom and bounce back.
That’s what I feel, just out of reach.
This weekend I actually sort of sat back a bit and tried to figure out what that is, this feeling.
Part of it is that I’ve stopped biting my nails again. I have been biting my nails as badly as when I was a kid for the past few months but last week I put some clear polish on and just stopped biting.
And that got me thinking about stories my mom has been telling me about my dad.
One day he had the idea to start jogging. So he did. On my desk at work I have a picture of him running his first marathon. (Decent inspiration for a too long campaign).
When he was 60 and his doctor told him that he was at risk of a major heart attack unless he changed his lifestyle he did it. He just did.
I have that in my blood, somewhere. I am a Scanlon.
So what is this inkling I have? What’s there, in the bad of my brain? I don’t know yet, but I think I’ll figure it out soon.
In 1976 my parents bought a house together. It was where they lived when I was brought home from the hospital. It was where they lived when the marriage ended. And then when I was four I remember my sister and I helping with the move by filling up our red wagon and pulling it around the corner and three houses down.
My Mom kept us in the neighbourhood, walking distance to where my dad was now living.
She tells me that she fell in love with the house as soon as she saw it, and my Dad did too. He kept on loving that house for 39 years. In fact, he died almost 39 years to the day that they moved in.
Even after we moved around the corner that house was always available to us. As we got older, even when my Dad wasn’t at home, it was our clubhouse. We played in the backyard and the garage, the basement, and finally the attic, where the damage that we did as children was still visible when we went to clean out the house – even though the attic had become my father’s office.
(We wrote on the walls, peeled off wallpaper – but not all the wallpaper because it was hard, and some of the paint because of the wallpaper).
That house hosted us for years of Boxing Day dinners, Thanksgivings, sometimes Easters and lots of get-togethers just because one of my older siblings was in town.
That house hosted the rehearsal dinner for my wedding – an October day so warm that we all sat out on the back deck. My brother-in-law barbecued and Dad’s partner made my favourite dessert and I was glad to have them involved in the day.
The day after my daughter was born we stopped by to see my Dad and sat in his living room – an odd, elongated room that fit our large family quite nicely. We were talking and Dad said, and I’ll never forget: “Do I get to hold my new granddaughter?”
Last Halloween Joe was out of town and after trying to figure out trick-or-treating and what to do with her I asked Dad if we could go over there, visit and take her out. Halloween was one of his favourite days. He used to count the number of kids he got at his door. I think he just loved talking to all his neighbours.
The kid had a great time hanging out at the door with Grandpa Joe and handing out candy, my Mom came with us and chatted with Dad’s partner, even my sister came with us trick-or-treating in the old neighbourhood.
The day after we all got the news that Dad had died his five kids met at the house – the only place we regularly saw each other – and started to clean it out.
I will never forget that week. It was hard – physically and emotionally. But the it was so much better grieving all together. It was therapeutic.
None of us had an easy relationship with Dad, I don’t think, but we are all who we are at least partly because of him.
Soon the house won’t be ours any more. It’s been conditionally sold. It will be the first time in my life that there’s no place to be in that neighbourhood. That I won’t have that house to just go to. I can’t drop in any more. I can’t hang out on the porch and watch the world go by while I talk to my Dad and ask him for advice.
I went to pick some things up the other day and it occurred to me while I was there that the house is going to be gone. Changed. Someone else’s. It hit me a lot harder than I thought. It’s been a place in my life. A hub. It’s not just a house.
When I decided to go back to school, and again when I decided to work and do school at the same time, I knew I was going to be making tough choices. Having to tell my daughter that this year I would not be there to put her on the bus on her first day of school.
I won’t be there for the pictures, I won’t meet her new bus driver. I won’t be there to do her hair or help her pick an outfit.
It’s the first first day I’m missing. I took her to preschool, I was there at the bus last year (and I cried). My whole being tells me I should be there, but that I have to go to class. I have to.
I cannot and will not mess this opportunity up.
I can only keep telling her why and hoping she understands.
Where I’m struggling the most is that I’m really enjoying being at work, and I’m legitimately interested in what I’m doing at school and both of those things are working together to fuel a passion that burned out a few years ago.
So right now I have to be there for me, not wasting the opportunities given to me, and assume that she will watch me thrive and understand that these are the things that life is about.
And I have to assume that in the grand scheme of things, my not being there to put her on the bus on her first day of senior kindergarten will not be a big deal.
I cried at work this week. More than once actually. That photo, that story, thousands of people walking from one country to the next.
Thousands of people in a situation I can’t even imagine, and one father having an experience I can imagine too well.
I always enjoyed watching the news for a living. Wanting to know what’s happening right this second is part of my DNA. There are days when it has been fun and fairly easy and days when it has been very, very hard.
But at the same time this time back at my old job has been a reminder of how much I love this work. Just like last year was a great reminder of how much I love politics and policy discussions.
I missed being in the middle of it all. I missed being allowed to know what was happening in the world all the time in real time.
Even when that meant seeing the worst of the world. Maybe most of all. Because you get to see the ways people react, and that can usually restore your faith in humanity. Most humanity. Spending days weighing the good and the bad.
In my head not knowing is always worse than knowing.
Of course, being at work or in school and knowing what’s happening in the news takes me away from always knowing what’s happening in my own house with my own family, and that’s a price I’m currently paying.
Something that’s hurt my heart that day of that picture. That I was here without my daughter, and she was at home without me.
But one day last week, after I arrived home around 1 am my daughter came out of her room. She was half asleep, maybe she heard a noise or had a bad dream, but she was walking in to see Daddy. I saw her lift her head up and I saw her see me and that smile erased any of the pain and sorrow I had been feeling.
It’s like she knew I needed that hug.
Children. They are magic. And the idea of the loss of one, just one innocent soul and the pain that would fill that void is too much to bear.