Capitol Day

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In celebration of Inauguration Day yesterday we took the children to Utah's Capitol building yesterday.

The place was deserted by law makers, the green room of the house was locked and bare. We secured a map from the visitor's center and took ourselves on a self-guided tour. The massive rotunda, the gold elevators blooming with sego lilies, the niche statues amazed my children. We roamed and roamed finding pioneer memorials and art, climbing stairs, cruising the hexagon tile, seeking out embedded beehives, acting like we owned the wondrous place.

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The Capitol is a place I know well, even the belly of it, thanks to my dad who worked there as a representative for ten years--from my early twenties until right after Anson was born. In fact, I brought Anson with me the day I was asked to give the pledge on the house floor.

But the story I will never forget about that Capitol building and my dad and me happened on the first day of his tenure as a representative. We woke up that morning on a frozen sunshine day in January, dressed and headed up to the Capitol together as a family. My dad drove his gold Lexus with his newly installed REP 63 license plates. We parked next to other cars of representatives REP 57 REP 62  REP 68 and headed into the building underneath the house floor.

As we entered into the great and spacious rotunda we were caught in a wave of astounding exctiment. The place was packed with people, milling and protesting and singing and shouting. TV crews flashed lights into the faces of reporters, law makers in dark suits rushed by in large conspiring groups and everything that was said or spoken or sang echoed off the curvy rotunda walls. It was a sight I can't remove from my brain.

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Not that I'd want to. But then, something else I cannot remove:

I looked over at my dad, in his pressed suit, his sweet face clean shaven and hair freshly cut. In his arms he clutched his brand new briefcase which matched the leather on his shiny shoes. For the first time in my life, I saw him look intimidated. It shocked me to see this nervousness in his eyes, this awestruck look, and I couldn't stop watching him. And then, in a flash of imagination, I saw him as a little boy on the first day of school with a new buzz cut topping his freckled face clutching his new lunch box. The same look on his green eyes as this busy, blowing day at the Capitol.

I was in my early twenties, as I said, but it was the first time I realized my dad could feel vulnerable. And I can't tell that story without crying, even as I type this, because it makes me love him from a very deep place. It also makes me think that showing our children that we have vulnerable places, that we feel lost sometimes, and overwhelmed is actually ok. Maybe even healthy.

But something else. One thing I will eternally love my parents for is their sense of adventure--from visiting the sea trapped rocks of Cabo San Lucas to running for office--their brillaint life has colored mine. I've known horse back rides on the backs of the Wasatch Mountains, bus rides in a rainy Finland and catered lunches in the belly of our fine state's Capitol. I've known important men and women who've been brave enough to branch out into the world of change and charity.

I've been a lucky girl.

Now it's my turn to take my children on adventures, to show them the ice caves in Idaho or the way the waves beat the shore off the Puget Sound. It's my turn to teach them about the beehive symbol of Utah and how we consider hard work (as busy as the bee!) to be an important part of our heritage and future. It's my turn to show them how beautiful Y mountain looks in winter when it's covered with snow and cast in pink of the sunset. It's my turn to introduce them to the great people I know, who make differences and are the difference, in community and culture.

It's my turn to show them classical architecture, God's brillance in a starry night on Lake Powell, a hot plate of poutine in Quebec, and my vulnerability--the tears I shed when I talk about my dad's first day as a representative on a cold day on Capitol Hill a decade ago.

All of it.

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“And pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked.”
--Jane Austen

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