Another week, another essay

Here’s the ninth of the 50 essays I’ve resolved to write this year:

The first time it happened I was in high school, digging drainage ditches at a state park on Earth Day. Al Gore, the sitting vice president, rolled through. I didn’t see him. Only camera flashes and the tidy, dark suits of the Secret Service. It was the beginning of a long and growing list of chance encounters with people who want to be president. A few years later, Gore was the Democratic nominee and his running mate, Joe Lieberman, came to my college campus. I was working for the student paper, thrilled and terrified to tell a big story on a tight deadline. Pretty soon, we had two stories: one about Lieberman’s speech and the other about an unexpected – and unsanctioned – visit by Ralph Nader. He arrived unannounced and rallied supporters who had commandeered a room in the student union. Dennis Kucinich and I once reached for the same carton of rice milk at a health food store in downtown Concord. I was shopping after a long week of following other, better-financed candidates. He looked exhausted. I stepped back and let him have the milk. Then there are the ones with names I don’t remember, average looking guys running for president simply because they can. They often visited the newspaper where I worked, leaving press releases and head shots at the front desk. Once, I collided with one of them near the vending machines. He stopped to grab a snack. Last week, it happened again. I was at my favorite café for a little tea and networking. The first hint was the knot of reporters I recognized from TV. Then a few local politicians arrived. Outside, two men squinted into the late afternoon sun and waved some kind of banner. The bookstore adjacent to the café was hosting Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland who, like all the others, came to New Hampshire to flirt with the presidency. #instaessay #fitn #nhpoli — Meg Heckman www.megheckman.com @meg_heckman

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