Leadership is sexy.
For as far back as I can remember, I’ve fallen hard for a man in charge. I got giggly and flushed as a fourth grader in my first student government meetings. I was hyper verbal and unusually articulate for my age, but I’d crumble to pieces when called on by the charming, long-haired sixth grader who commanded the room.
In junior high, I lusted after my fourth period P.E. T.A., but only when he was holding the clipboard.
In high school, I made my first plans to marry a lawyer. I fantasized about a man in an expensive suit with an Ivy League diploma. I was on a fierce and narrow man hunt to trap the other half of the power couple I was destined to become.
I tried to date the program director of UniCamp my first summer as a counselor. And my second. My college boyfriend had more charisma than Bill Clinton.
I can usually see an attraction coming. I had predictable crushes on arrogant professors in both college and law school. When Senator Barack Obama gave his first famous speech at the DNC in 2004, I thought, “damn. that guy is fine.” I’ve loved alpha male frat-boys and outspoken social organizers. No matter what he looks like, I’m reliably hot for the most animated man in the room. My affection for authority transcends the boundaries of typical female taste and preference. But for all the difference and variation, one thing seemed certain.
I could never love a Republican.
The morning after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast, it was love at first sight. I saw him speaking soberly to Matt Lauer on the Today show. He was grieving, but grounded. Stoic, but vulnerable. He was humbly clad in a dark blue half-zip, speaking earnestly and openly to his broken community.
I felt swept up by his sincerity. Like we were making real-life eye contact. The type that imprints you with its intensity. The type you can still feel an hour after you’ve both looked away. I felt his hands reach out, grab mine with purpose and tell me with conviction, “it’ll all be o.k.”
Since then, I’ve been following him on twitter. I know some lowly staff intern writes his tweets, but he pours his soul into the message. He is mindful and direct. Encouraging, but no-nonsense.
I’m captivated by him. His strength, his determination, his resolution to rebuild. The way he told his party to fuck off when they said he cost Romney the election. I admire his honesty, and transparency. I cried when I watched the coverage of him walking the streets of New Jersey with the President. I saw him meeting his people, really feeling their fear. Their loss. Their desperation. It was so human, and so beautiful.
The two of us are an unlikely pair. I doubt he eats much vegetarian or spends any time in chatturanga. He probably scoffs at organic produce and laughs about “global warming.”
But we could be great together. I’d teach him about west-coast healthy living and he’d defend old- school fiscal conservatism. I’d take up eating seafood and he’d wear Lululemon. We’d yell at each other about politics. He’d call me young and naive. I’d call him old and out of touch. But in the end it wouldn’t matter. We’d hug and laugh and raise our glasses of red wine in celebration of the chance to have unique perspectives.
My love affair with Chris Christie got me thinking about bipartisanship. About a polarized country that’s suffering in the aftermath of an economic hurricane. About how each of us already has the solution to the issues, the controversies, the fiscal cliff and the unemployment rate.
It’s the ability to acknowledge and embrace our sameness. The ability to look at each other with a feeling of gratitude, admiration and love. When I watch Chris Christie lead, I don’t care how he feels about abortion, contraception or prayer in schools. I feel moved and inspired by the sense that he’s leading from his heart, not his party platform. That in the midst of crisis he can’t help but make the decisions that are best for his people.
I haven’t imagined myself in politics since I was a kid. I’d probably be chased out of town for my lack of husband and moderate views. I’m a little too eccentric and outspoken. I’m not as tough as I used to be. Public life would be hard on my ego and sad for my mom.
But if Chris Christie called me to be his running mate, or his second wife, I wouldn’t turn him down.