Heavily edited because my point has been made and my audience reached.
Part of me feels like I have been robbed of my grandfather's help. I was too young when he died and his political work is a largely undocumented blur.
I remember a few years before he passed that my parents wound up on the bad end of a business deal with a certain Alabama politician. Sitting cross-legged on my grandfather's office floor, I made a negative comment about the man who was hurting my parents (and, by extension, me). He stopped dead in the tracks of his work and swiveled around in his chair to make it a teaching moment: never, ever make an enemy you can't afford to make. If you make flippant comments like that you'll never have anyone's respect.
I know that was just a small taste of his wisdom. That was a man who knew how to navigate the murky waters of Alabama politics with ease. He didn't really know how to talk to children (at least, he didn't know how to talk to an over-emotional, melodramatic girl), so I take pains to remember what he said, gleaning from memories some hope that I might have inherited his wit.
And now I walk the city streets he used to walk.
I came here steadfast in my resolve to do as I have always done: I am good to people. Critical at times, judgmental as a fault, selective in who I call friends, but in all things I seek to be kind. I realize that this is just my twenties - and, God-willing, we'll be in this city for decades, working alongside one another in our like goals.
Life is just too incredible right now to squander even a moment letting anything whatsoever steal the smile from my face.
I have landed jam-side-up. I walk arm-in-arm down cold city streets with women I think of as sisters. I sit with aplomb and laugh with people whose columns I used to absorb like scripture. I can see monuments from my windows for crying out loud.