Saturday, February 8, 2014

Now Where? Seeking Sponsors

Plans developed over the last year or two to work Monday, and Wednesday through Friday some weeks in the first four months of each year.  Actually, the seed of these plans reach back to a single statement in 1996 when I vowed I would return to the legislature of the State of Tennessee with my bill.  All the moments of hesitation, is this my path, or is it my imagination it is my path? Read for yourself.
I am overjoyed as I start off to Nashville.  I pick up my morale booster, BFF, next stop, Legislative Plaza.  Early morning traffic is beginning to build as we head west out of town. Fog hangs beneath a cloudy background making lift impossible.  Attitude tilt, rainy days don't get me down anymore.  
We have a list of tasks for this first day back.  We walk the four blocks uphill from the library to the plaza, through the scanners, get our visitor pass with picture, wait during inspection of our bags, and find a 108th Congressional Session information booklet to guide us on our discovery of Legislative Plaza and the War Memorial Building.  I spot Speaker of House Beth Harwell's Office 19 as I quickly glance around to get my bearings. One major goal for today is to refresh my memory of the building layout. A maze is all I recall from before.  But first time around my recovery journey was still somewhat new. People did things for me to help me get better and show me the ropes.  Now I am reaching out and asking state leaders to sponsor a bill.  Elevator access is the only transport to the War Memorial Building.  On arriving at the 3rd floor, I feel 80 degree heat as we enter the hallway.  We make a couple of quick inquiries and decide to head back to committee sessions in process.
We step into a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in full swing.  Sitting quietly and observing the process brings on several deep breathes to calm my nerves.  I close my eyes for several seconds and center my thoughts.  How surreal. I'm here again.  The morning meeting ends early end Senators start to disperse.  My feet seem stuck in place.  I watch an onlooker approach the panel.  Do I go?  "Go" from my friend ignites my step. I approach Senator Thelma Harper, introduce myself and my bill.  She answers with an invitation and I walk away with directions to set up an appointment.  We follow her directions immediately and secure a time to speak privately with the Senator.
Two major task items complete. Wow, and not yet noon.  We spent our lunch break in review of the afternoon schedule ahead.  My nerves seem to be aware of the meeting of the day coming up immediately following lunch, task of the day.  
Office 19.  What an experience.  Pleasant introductions and trade of hand shakes between all in the room are followed by seconds of awkward silence in which I coral strength to explain the reason for my visit.  "Discovery, statute of limitations, tolling, and other key words from the bill splattered a short synopsis.  I jot down her suggestions as she cites names: one individual new to the legislature and another whose interests parallel mine. Speaker assures me the document I present for the bill is in form to seek sponsors.  But the deadline for 2014 consideration is the following day.  My deep inhale indicts acceptance this thing I am doing is not going to be easy and I never thought it would be. Speaker Harwell reminds me that education about the topic is needed.  Extra time would give me time to lay ground work.  Minor disappointment, but not totally surprised. I linger around the hallways of the first floor pondering one more thing I can do before heading home. "One more thing, one more time".  Senator Rusty Crowe's office nestled in the back hallway is the only one I need to see.  I walk right in and make an appointment for the same afternoon as Senator Harper's.  Are you kidding me? This is better than I dream and I look forward to coming back soon.
At this point, I want to ask, well, did you decide? Is this my path? Wait, one minute. 
We walk back to the car to head home as rain starts to pelt down in 37 degree moist air. Neither of us have an umbrella.  My comrade has a hood on her coat. I have no hood on my coat.  I have no coat.  I think to myself, that's okay, rain won't hurt me.  A scruffy gentleman with a giant umbrella appears suddenly from nowhere and asks "where are you headed?" I join him on the short jaunt back to the library under dome protection. He disappears as quietly as he arrives.  My best friend looks at me and asks "did you see where he came from?  He was just right there to help you. Where did he go?"
Yes, this is my path.