“We know that the future will outlast all of us, but I believe all of us will live on in the future we make.” -Edward Moore Kennedy
Since everyone else blogged about this yesterday, I’m going to blog about it today. I do whatever I can to be special.
My first meeting with the senior senator from Massachusetts was actually on my own turf in the suburbs of New York at an event where he was honored with an award in the name of another political legend, FDR. As promised, the senator was larger than life and had that accent you only get from the bay state, and that red nose you only get from drinking too much on one too many occasions. That day we actually bonded over the wine served at the event. I was sixteen at the time, but I was served and I remember thinking it was quite delightful. I was simply beside myself, a day off from school, strawberry shortcake, and wine with Senator Kennedy. I could not yet drive, but I considered myself to be a pretty big deal, and after my over-eager father arrived to pick me up (complete with windbreaker and fanny pack, yes it was a formal affair) the senator was more than pleased to take a photo with him. That photo sits on my father’s dresser today.
A few years later, after spending time serving at the Institute of Politics he helped establish at the Kennedy School of Government, and of equal importance making out with boys at the final club he belonged to while at Harvard, I managed to weasel my way into a summer internship with his economic development office on capitol hill. I had never taken an economics course and I am not from MA, but I knew that was where I belonged. I quickly realized it would be a fun and interesting summer, as my first day at work started with my boss arriving late, with busted glasses and a black eye, mumbling something about a fight in a bar in Adams Morgan. I didn’t yet know the guy, and again, I still could not legally drink, but that got me pretty stoked for my summer in DC. I learned how to get around quickly because even when you’re a big deal senator, when the other party is in power your offices get spread out across the three buildings that compose the capital office complex, so that your life is made as hellish and difficult as possible. When I worked there the senator had a physical inbox called “the bag” aka documents that were of timely and oftentimes sensitive nature that went into his briefcase. Items for “the bag” were only given to people who were deemed responsible and could move quickly; luckily I had long legs and at least the appearance of trustworthiness. I can remember working on an economic policy brief then being told it needed to be in the “bag” NOW. I don’t think I’ve ever moved so quickly in a pencil skirt and high heels, and by the time I returned to my desk, I watched him on C-SPAN presenting the brief on the senate floor. That was when I learned what “timely” actually meant.
I will always find something very appealing about those who are born into great fortune, yet make it their responsibility to serve the less fortunate. Little was expected of Teddy and his life may have been marred by reckless behavior, but he clearly believed in doing good and having a good time so obviously a man worthy of my respect. I consider it a great fortune to have had the opportunity to play a the tiniest role in supporting his many efforts to help others over the years.