It’s a week before my 47th birthday and I’ve got a lot on my mind. I wake up naturally around 8:30am daily. Gone are the days when an alarm breeched the world between slumber and the conscious. However, I’m still a night owl, so waking up before the sun is rarely something I can accomplish. Instead, I now wake up when I’m finished sleeping and I get to savor the last moments of each beautiful dream.
After a simple breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, I turn on the news to see about the weather for the day. Looks like it’ll be beautiful, no clouds, no rain, just sunshine. The high is only in the 70s. Perfect. This is my kind of day. I look at my phone and see that I’ve missed a few calls and texts. There are some people who just refuse to accept that I’m not a morning person. They still call at hours they know I won’t be awake. It’s ok though. They’ve learned not to expect a call until at least 10am. Today is no different. I put the phone down and return my attention to the news. Local stories have always been my favorites. I love to hear about the young girl who sold the most cookies or a family whose corn stalk looks like Jesus. Those stories make me smile. I know there are many more serious issues to report on, but I still like the fluff, even after all these years.
Just before 10:00am I begin to return my phone calls. My brother and friends know this is a big day for me. Every year since I was in my 20s, we’ve traveled for my birthday. Sometimes we leave a week before, sometimes a week after. But it’s still for my birthday. This year’s trip has been postponed a week because of my impending announcement. Those closest to me already know. I told them years ago, back in 2011 to be exact. So, they have been prepping themselves for years. Now that day is finally here and everyone is anxious, except for me. I’m relaxed and casual. That’s been my norm for years. There is very little that can break my stride, even something a significant and life changing as this.
Usually the conversations between my friends a week before my birthday involve finalizing travel details. This year is similar, but different at the same time. They are asking me when they should arrive and which calls they should return. Speculation has been building outside of my inner circle and some people have reached out to those closest to me to get the answers I would not provide. My trajectory has been strategic, but not usual. I didn’t go to law school or participate much in the local political scene. I’ve made a name for myself in other ways though. My involvement in local organizations has grown to make me a local celebrity of sorts. My business is flourishing and has granted me the opportunity to be in the national news on more than one occasion. Still, I am not yet a household name. Even with that being true, I’ve made a decision and I’m committing to it and today is the day I let the world know.
Once my friends arrive at my place, we get right into our routine of talking and laughing. From the outside, it would appear this is a normal gathering. But we all know there is something more happening. We’re dressed to the nines in business attire and there’s a limo waiting out front to take us to our destination. I check the mirror a few times before we head out. I’ve always loved my reflection. My emotions are clear on my face. I’m excited, eager, and a little scared. My best friends are making sure I’ve prepared for all the questions I might have to answer. I appreciate their help, but I’ve done the same thing a million times myself and I do believe there is such a thing as being over-prepared. So I suggest that we flip through some photos from previous vacations and steer the conversation towards the trip we’ll take next week, for my birthday.
We walk outside and all take our seats in the limo. I’ve never been a fan of limousines. I’d much rather have a chauffeured sedan, but my friends wanted us to all be together. And I obliged. Silence takes over and represents the multitude of feelings on the ride downtown. I love them for being there. I’m excited about where this journey will take me and I’m glad this day is finally here. When we arrive at the park, there are already people there. Passers-by innocently ask if I know what is going on here today. I tell them that I heard there will be an announcement of some sort. They stick around to see what it is. The news channels are all there, but I’ve escaped the eyes of anyone just yet. I’m enjoying the view of the lake. It’s beauty is why I chose this location to hold my press conference. After a few moments of solitude, my brother tells me that it’s time to begin. We walk up to the podium looking like we just stepped out of a magazine. Sharp. After a brief introduction by a friend and colleague, I step to the microphone and smile. Cameras are snapping pictures before they even know what I’m here to say. But I’ve cleverly dropped enough hints to make the speculation necessary.
“Thank you all for joining me here today on the beautiful shores of Lake Erie. Many of us live here and rarely recognize the magnitude of this Great Lake. Even fewer of us recognize its power. Simply because it has been here all of our lives and we pass it in our daily commutes, we underestimate it. Perhaps we take it for granted. Yet if we took a moment to relish it, we would see what a gift we have been given. However, sometimes it is necessary to speak up in order for someone to recognize your strength or contribution. The lake sends waves roaring and crashing into the shore for us to acknowledge its presence. In the coming summer months, many will enjoy the afternoon on the shores of this very lake and will wonder why they don’t do this more often. How sad for our beloved Lake to go over looked. Like our lake, there are many in our society who go unheard until they cry out in an uproar. Until there is an epidemic, a boycott, a walkout, a bankruptcy, their voices seem mute to the world. But I hear the cry. I hear the outpouring from communities around this nation from people who deserve to have their voices heard. I recognize the contribution of every segment of society and believe that it can be incorporated into success for us all. When you thrive, I thrive. Together we can create the type of nation that is representative of everything is should be. I may not be a big name in politics. I haven’t been at this game for years. However, I’ve been an active citizen. I’ve been a member of a community. I’ve made a difference and I’ve helped others realize their dreams. A visionary who believes in action and difference is what we need right now. I am a visionary and I will make a difference. I am Tamika Lawson and I’m running for President of the United States.”