Part of the Presidential Classroom class of February 20-26, 1984.

Part of the Presidential Classroom class of February 20-26, 1984.

Today, Maggie comes home after spending election week in Washington, D.C.

It reminds me of a similar trip I took in February 1984. My first plane ride and my first trip outside of the Midwest. I, like Maggie, was 17.

I had somehow been recruited for a program called Presidential Classroom. It brings high school kids to D.C. for a week of tours, visits with state representatives, and explorations of historic sites and monuments.

The first night we had a mixer. The first person I met was my friend Rachel. We’re still good friends, 30-plus years later. The first person we met together was Becky.

Becky had a shock of pink hair in front, which was instantly exciting to a 17-year-old barely out of the sticks. But she was also wearing a pin supporting abortion rights. I said, without batting an eye, “Oh, so you’re for abortion?”

She didn’t blanch, either.

“No, I’m for the choice to have an abortion,” she replied.

With that, my world shifted.

I was a product of Catholic schools. When the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down in 1973, my entire grade school, including us second-graders, were herded into the gym to watch graphic abortion videos.

But this isn’t about abortion. I still struggle with the issue, though anyone who has read my posts before probably knows where my allegiances lie.


No, this is about how a moment can open your eyes. How one person who holds his or her views firmly can unapologetically, even when faced with a potentially hostile audience, can alter your worldview with a few simple words of clarification.

When I came home from Presidential Classroom, I sat in my room and cried. I’m not sure why. The realization that I was home, I guess, and that home was now too small for me.

I hope that Maggie had at least one awakening like that this week. And I hope we have given her a bigger world to come home to.