“It's funny how it's the little things in life that mean the most
Not where you live, what you drive or the price tag on your clothes
There's no dollar sign on peace of mind this I've come to know”
-- Zac Brown Band
When I woke up this morning I was sore. Yesterday, I worked out in the morning and played a flag football game at night. It was a long day, but I knew I had to wake up early this morning. I had things to do.
This morning, I had a group presentation. Our job was to present a proposal we had developed to increase access to pre-k for students in Santa Clara County California; my team worked for about a month on the proposal. We ultimately were awarded $6.5 million (hypothetical money), with the option of receiving $13.5 million in additional (hypothetical) funding to scale up our proposal. My group was well-balanced and the judges noted our cohesiveness — we had someone who contextualized the program and explained the root problems of lack of access effectively, someone to explain the logistics of scaling up a universal, county-wide pre-k program (particularly with personnel), and then I chimed in with the political and policy aspects of the proposal (coalition building, community engagement, and a ballot measure to secure funding).
It was so much fun. Even though it took more time to prepare for than most of us wanted to spend, we all enjoyed it. But when it was done, we were ready for the day to be over.
After the presentation, I had only one more meeting, this one with my academic advisor.
It was awesome. I really enjoy conversation with Mike. He's incredibly smart, he's funny, and he loves to talk politics and policy; almost an hour later and it felt like we were just getting started. I’m focusing the scope of my POLS (capstone) project, and I'm settling on credit allocation, diploma pathways, and graduation requirements. Professor Mike Kirst, predictably, had ideas and resources and plenty of interesting things to say about my ideas. I am fortunate.
When we were done, I walked home. I was ready for a slow, relaxing night alone. Maybe watch The Office, maybe some new Stranger Things. Light the pumpkin spice candle. It was going to be great.
But then I found out Zac Brown Band was in town. And the social pressure began to mount. "You have to go!" they said. I didn’t want to go — but I also really wanted to go.
One of my recommendations for people starting college is “say 'yes' as much as you can.” Tonight was a true test of my commitment to that theory.
So, of course, I said yes.
And I had the time of my life. I was with great people, we heard great music, and we made great memories dancing and singing along to Chicken Fried in an outdoor amphitheater.
I don't listen to much country music, usually it's not my jam. But I love Zac Brown Band. I know all the words to a ton of his songs. Looking around the audience of the Shoreline Amphitheater, I recognized that I might not have a lot in common with most of the audience members. There were lots cowboy hats, chewing tobacco, and a few belt buckles. I was wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt, light washed jeans, and a pair of Vans. Politics didn't come up -- and that's probably for the best (particularly on the day that CNN broke the story that Bob Mueller has filed the first charges in his investigation).
But everyone there, regardless of attire and voting history, loved ZBB, and we all sang along when Zac belted, "I thank God for my life, and for the stars and stripes, may freedom forever fly, let it ring." I love those moments -- moments of appreciation, optimism, patriotism. Those moments have been a little harder to find the last year or so.
But I'm grateful I said "yes" last night and got to share one with a few thousand others.