In 2008 I volunteered with the Obama campaign, which included voter registration, and an incredible trip to Grand Junction, Colorado. The trip to Grand Junction changed my life in so many ways, and next weekend, I’m heading back with the Obama for America campaign.
You see, in 2008 I was miserable with my ex. Miserable. I was depressed and I didn’t know how to escape from the travesty that my life had become. At the time I didn’t realize that I was trapped in the cycle of domestic violence. In the midst of the heartache and ceaseless depression I made one pivotal decision: I signed up to canvass my nearby battleground state. I asked my boyfriend at the time if he wanted to come along, and he declined with his usual “I don’t have any money” line. Of course, the night before I left to volunteer Captain Inconsiderate was out getting a massage–talk about no money, aye? I was so mad at him that my blood boiled, but going solo would end up being one of the most pivotal moments of my little adult life.
On a cold day in October 2008 I showed up to the Democratic Party headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City, and I hopped in a car with three strange men who had also signed up. I drove for five hours with Richard, Tim, and Lee. We arrived to Grand Junction late, and stayed in a fellow party member’s home. The next day we trekked over to headquarters for instructions where we met other passionate volunteers filled with the prospect of hope and change.
Headquarters was a small house that had been converted into a cave of computers, white boards, and warm bodies. We each received a packet with houses to visit, and we were greeted by the actor, Treat Williams. After a brief speech and a few instructions, we were off. I was dropped off in a neighborhood where I knocked on doors with an impassioned message. Some people were sweet, and some were not. Some people lived in large houses, and some people lived in makeshift vans/mobilehomes.
The whole experience was a blast. I was with like-minded people working towards a common goal, and I was doing it without my Ex.
I ended the night sitting in a dark bedroom with Lee, the hottie venture capitalist who was twenty-five-years-old and ran six miles a day (did I mention that in 2008 I was the heaviest I have ever been?).
It was in that dark room, filled with the exhiliration and exhaustion of the hard day’s work, that Lee asked me to lay down. In the split second between his question and my response I was filled with desire, confidence, and true temptation. Sound was muffled, my heart raced, and I contemplated laying in the arms of someone who had never called me a bitch, made me cry, or been physically menacing. I thought about a life where my partner didn’t go through my phone and throw away clothes he didn’t “approve” of.
I thought about cheating on someone who I thought was my whole world, which made me think that maybe he really wasn’t my whole world.
I wanted to lay down. I wanted to say yes so bad that it hurt.
I said no.
I climbed into my sleeping bag in the next room and called my ex. I told him I loved him, and couldn’t wait to see him, but looking back I realize I was trying to convince myself more than I was actually being honest with him. I fell asleep that night wondering what Lee was doing in the next room. I wondered what it would be like to be happy instead of scared and stressed. I fell asleep knowing I wasn’t in love or like with the person who was waiting at home. I knew something had to change, because I couldn’t resist such luring temptation forever.
Two weeks later I would break free. I broke free from a cycle that had engulfed my life for four years.
We won the election in November. Barack Obama defeated John McCain by 4,000 votes in Colorado. I was one of 3,200 volunteers that traveled to the state. That trip changed my life, and sometimes I like to think it changed an election.
If you, or someone you love, is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.