As most of you probably know by now, Tommy lost his bid for school board on Tuesday. It’s so interesting how this “defeat” doesn’t feel like defeat at all. When he first decided to run, we didn’t know much about the other members of the school board, including who he would be running against.
We were both sad to find out that one of the women he would be running against was a retired teacher, and children’s librarian that we know and love. She has read stories to our children for years at the library here in town. However, we both felt strongly that his voice was a valuable one to share with our city, and so he ran anyway. We figured that the voters could decide. Tommy and I talked extensively about allowing his personality to shine through. Our constant refrain was “We want Tommy to get elected, not to just get elected.”
I’m so proud to say that he expressed himself well, stood tall, and tried his best. He ate, slept, and breathed that campaign…you know when he wasn’t being a teacher and family man. Yeah, pride doesn’t quite capture what I feel about his bid for school board. It’s more than that.
What an amazing learning experience it was. We learned so much about the intricacies and rivalries that there are in our local politics. We learned a lot about the issues that are important to our neighbors and fellow citizens, and about how people make their voting decisions. Tommy is planning to present some of this info to his fourth graders. It will be fun to see the break down of the results…both for information’s sake, and for a future run…maybe. We haven’t gotten that far yet.
For those of you who voted for Tommy, thank you. We cherish each one of the nearly 1400 votes that were cast for him. To those of you who have commented on Facebook, and here on the blog, wishing us well, and encouraging him, we appreciate those comments so much. Our village is truly magnificent.
So back to my story about how Tommy and I met and fell in love (a little over a decade ago). If I’m remembering correctly, the watershed protest occurred on a Wednesday. On Friday, I was sitting home alone…probably watching Law and Order (dun dun). And I thought to myself that I needed to do something to jump start my social life again…and then I thought about Tommy again. How much fun it was to talk to him, how he hadn’t mentioned a girlfriend or fiancé….and how we hadn’t exchanged information. So I did something a tad bold.
I went and double checked the spelling of his last name on my observation paperwork, and then I looked him up in the phone book. Yes kids, this was when we still had land lines, and we still kept that book that is now just a recyclable print off of part of the internet. I dialed six numbers and hung up the first time. The second time, I let it ring and ring and ring. The answering machine picked up, and I heard his voice. I’d made a deal with myself that I could hang up if a woman answered, or was recorded on the answering machine.
The message beeped, and I left the following: “Hi, this is Bibi. I’m hoping that you remember me from observing in your classroom a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, I just thought I would call and see if you wanted to hang out sometime.”
He called me back the next day.
We set up a date for the following Friday. He picked me up at my apartment, and arrived promptly 10 minutes early, while I was freaking out that I had to plunge the toilet that I’d just clogged (dainty, I know)….I don’t think he knows that part of the story. It was February 4th, 2005. I remember this because as we sat at the table in the front of the local coffee shop, I told him that this was actually the day that I was due to be born, although my birthday wasn’t for another 3 weeks.
I told myself that this wasn’t it. I was just dating him. We would enjoy each other’s company, that we could develop a fondness for one another, but that really we were too different for a future…and that seemed like a good thing to me. In the mean time, I really got to know Tommy. He was amazingly thoughtful.
However, by Spring break, I still wasn’t willing to admit that we were more than just casually dating. Tommy, on the other hand wanted to meet my parents. At first I agreed, but the day before he was going to drive back to Raytown with me, I put the nix on it. It was too much too fast. I decided to ride the train home instead. What I didn’t know at that time was that Tommy was thinking maybe this was a sign he should break up with me. He thought I didn’t care about him since I was being so aloof.
At the last moment before I left for spring break, Tommy showed up in a grand gesture to let me know that I could take all the time I needed. He would be okay waiting to meet my family when I was ready.
I spent all of spring break deciding what to do, and when I got back to Kirksville, I told Tommy we needed to have a long talk. We talked about religion and family, and how we felt about having a relationship with someone so different from one another. At the time, Tommy was born again Christian and a pretty staunch republican. Religiously, I didn’t know what I was…I think I referred to myself as spiritual, and I’ve always been very liberal politically. It was a little stiff talking about it all. It’s weird having that conversation where you’re trying to figure out if you’re wasting your time in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere. You don’t want to come out and say “Look, I want to have kids some day. And I don’t want my spouse telling them that I’m going to Hell…so, if we were to ever procreate, can we agree that that’s off limits?” But, that’s what we did.
His response was something along the lines of “I don’t get to decide that.” Which, to be honest, was not the most satisfying answer. But the way he said it left enough room for interpretation that I was okay continuing. It was just a feeling that I had that we could work things out…nothing was insurmountable as long as we were both “in it”.
What we agreed was that we were now in an exclusive relationship, and we would see where it led. And so, on we went. He opened doors for me. He listened voraciously to every word I said. He had deep thoughts…and yeah, we argued about politics, mostly we politely avoided religion, loved watching TV together, talked about our families, our pasts. It felt like that Alanis Morrisette song “Head Over Feet”….which is fitting since my adolescence is firmly entrenched in the 90’s. By the end of April we saw each other every day, and I even cooked dinner for us a couple times. Mostly we ate take-out on my roommate’s couch, or went out with friends (karaoke was a major draw at one of the local bars).
By the end of the semester, we were close enough that Tommy let me borrow his car so that I could move out of my apartment and store my belongings at his house for the summer while I went back home to Raytown. As I loaded up the last of my belongings, I called Tommy’s phone, and left him a voicemail. At the end I accidentally let slip some words that we had not said yet.
“Love you, bye.”
…and guess what, he loved me too.