Juneau initially seemed so irrelevant to the week's activities, but I kind of liked the idea of it. I was going for my second cousin's wedding, but I figured it would also serve as a kind of retreat, a moment when I could stare out at a glacier and reflect on the four days prior; take deep gulps of Alaskan air and try to commit to memory every moment I had experienced in Denver.
As we taxied to the gate in Juneau, I turned my cell phone on and watched the screen think while it powered up. As the emails flooded in, I saw a "CNN Breaking News" email. Sleepily, I clicked on the email to see what sort of post-convention excitement it could be.
Sen. John McCain picks Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate on GOP ticket for White House, CNN learns.
I was so incredibly tired that for a moment, I really thought my eyes were deceiving me. 'Alaska Gov.?' I thought. Aren't I in Alaska? This can't be right.
A quick look at the mountainside around me and three stuffed bears later in the airport terminal, it was confirmed that I was in fact in Alaska, and that my quiet retreat to Juneau was now suddenly politically-charged. "Did you hear the news?" and "Aren't you glad you're in Juneau while this is going on?" would be repeated over and over to me during the three days I was there. No, I didn't want to know anything about the Alaskan governor whom the locals described as a flip-flopper beauty queen. Just let me bask in my DNC glory.
And so the convention for me became much like the confetti that rocketed up around Barack Obama after his speech at Invesco -- momentarily high but falling slowly and softly away. And I arrived home after the convention to face handfuls of red, white and blue tissue paper hastily grabbed off the floor on my way out of the stadium, and my happiness turning to illness caused by the too-quick return to sea-level: the reality of Sarah Palin.
I got the bends.
Until today, when I got an invitation to join the "I Have More Foreign Policy Experience Than Sarah Palin" group on Facebook. What was surprising was not the group name, nor the validity of the subject, but the sender.
I have a friend. We'll call her E-dub. Those of you who are regulars will know her antics well, but what you might not know about her is that since I met her, in November 2006, I have very quietly tolerated her conservative beliefs. While the girl can drink, she also is a very devout Catholic from North Carolina who married a career Army officer she met at Duke. I never tried to sway her, figuring it was a lost cause, and if I did, I was too drunk at the time to remember.
So when I got an invitation from E-dub, of all people, to join the group, my jaw dropped. It'd be like what I'd imagine finding out you have a long lost sibling would be like. I very quickly joined the group, then questioned on E-dub's Facebook wall "Does that group invitation mean that you might be one of those beloved swing voters casting a vote for obama in north carolizza despite your conservative catholic pretenses?"
And this -- THIS! -- coming from a girl who wore a mock-turtleneck on Sixth Street the first time she went out:
i think i have to vote absentee in KY. cause we wont have lived in NC but for a couple days come election time. but she definitely may have pushed me over the edge. like i was standing on the edge, and she gave me a big ol shove away from her and her people.
As I was doing a celebration dance in my chair, either for E-dub seeing the light or McCain's plan backfiring, or maybe a little of both, I had another wall post from E-dub:
an addendum: during the DNC, i realized that whatever my particular economic or social leanings may be, this country truly, actually, physically needs Obama to get elected. If he doesnt, i think the educated, optimistic, forward thinking people in America may just plain give up. and that would be terrible.
That would be terrible. And you know what, I can't be one of them. It was the fog of war that gave E-dub and I any sort of common ground to begin with. And so onward into the fog we go.