NOTES: New series. See Part One.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the West Wing or any of its related
characters. Don't sue.
SUMMARY: Different people of the West Wing reflect on their lives so
They're arguing again. These people are the most intelligent,
hard-working people in the country and yet they are in the Oval
Office, arguing like children about income tax fraud. If you ask me,
it's not exactly an argue-worthy topic. The President is rolling his
eyes which is my cue to change the subject. That's my job at these
These kids are so passionate; it makes me smile to seem them
hard at work. CJ yells at the boys, a powerful and yet graceful
conscience working for the rest of us. Toby stands in the corner,
fiercely making his argument with all the intelligence and eloquence
that he has at his command. Sam jumps off the couch in a moment of
excitement, his voice echoing the mixture of innocence and idealism
that comprises his personality. Josh rolls his eyes and argues back
with words mixed with sarcasm and political intuition. In the midst
of all this, my best friend goes back and forth between listening
intently and making fun of them when their passion takes them towards
the wrong path somewhere. He's the one with the charm that got us
into this here office.
For right now though, I'm tired and I want to go home.
We've come so far in the last two (almost three) years. We have
come so far as politicians but also as people. I'm not just talking
about what the shooting did to us though it did quite a bit. We're
all a little quieter. Some of us have different values than before
and some of us are behaving strangely. What I'm talking about though
is this entire run. Our life in this office has changed each and
every one of us. I know for a fact that my life has become a lot more
complicated. The world discovered I was a recovering drug addict in
addition the widely known information about my alcoholism, my wife
left me, and my daughter started dating one of my staffers, only to
meet pothole after pothole with him and then ending up in the arms of
a hockey player.
On top of all that, both my best friend and the man that I look
upon as a son were shot in the same nine seconds, the latter of the
two nearly killed. Yes, this place has definitely changed me. I
believe it has changed us all.
Thank God the staff meeting is finally over. I retreat back to
my office and collapse into the chair behind my desk. Normally I
would expect the staff to follow me back here for an additional ten
minutes or so, just to check on things, but not today. No one is in
the mood for it today. I think we're all in a sort of reflective mood
today. It's funny how we all get into moods collectively; it's like
we all think in the same way. We share moods.
When I think about this big picture that people refer to as
life, I wonder how I made it this far. When I was in Vietnam, I told
myself to do whatever I could to stay alive, but there was always
this nagging feeling that I wouldn't be able to. In the air, being
inside the tiny cockpit of a plane with guns blazing at you, there's
this strong sense of claustrophobia. I had this constant fear that I
was going to die, and that fear somehow kept me alive.
Does that make any sense whatsoever?
I wonder what my parents first thought when they saw me on the
day that I was born? I wonder what they envisioned for my future. I
wonder if my mother looks down on me from Heaven even now? Are they
proud of me? Are they surprised? Are they not surprised? I'm fifty-
five years old and I still wonder about that. I want to do good
things for this country and I want to be a man my parents could be
proud of. I know that I've done good things and I realize that I've
been a less than perfect man in my life, but I do think that they are
proud of me, wherever they are.
I'd like to think that in death, my father is wiser than he was
in life. That is why I include him in these thoughts. Maybe that's
just wishful thinking. However, part of me just needs to believe that
if I can reform in life, he was able to reform in death. He's got to
be in Hell, I realize, if all the stuff in the bible is true, but
somewhere in me, there's that little boy who has to believe that Dad
is okay, resting happily, his only regret being the pain he caused
I wonder if Mallory believes that for me; if she will when I
Another day is almost over. It's just a matter of taking things
one day at a time. Sometimes I wonder where the road ends. It's not
like I'm obsessed with my own mortality, but there are times when I
wonder what the whole thing is about. I'm proud of myself and the man
that I am today, but I still wonder: how does it all end? I'm
approaching "old age" apparently and I'm just wondering what's going
to happen when I get there. Maybe it's too soon to start thinking
about that. It's definitely depressing.
What other work have I got to do today? Margaret has been her
normal self today, but I also detect a sense of sadness, or maybe
it's caution, in her demeanor. She's thinking about the past again. I
always wonder what it is she's thinking about when she gets like
this. I feel like there's something she wants to tell me, but she
won't for some reason. Part of me is dying to know what it is, and
the other part of me needs to respect her privacy. Also, I know how
she gets when she starts talking about stuff; she just can't stop.
I'll end up knowing more than I'd ever wanted to, more than I ever
will want to. I guess it's better then that I remain in suspense.
She'll tell me when she wants to; if she wants to.
I'm ready to go home. It's not even five yet, but I'm ready to
go home. Is the apartment I now live in "home" though? Sometimes I
wonder. Sometimes I think that "home" means so much more than the
place where you live. The house I used to share with Jenny is full of
so many memories, so many years spent together in happiness. My
apartment doesn't have those memories; it doesn't have the same
sentimental value. "Home is where the heart is." How true that is.
Sadly, it's too true, for my heart is somewhere in that house
across town. It's where my home is. Where it was.
I still have work to do. Funny, I actually enjoy my work. I
work hard every day and I try to do my best at it. It's a far cry
from growing up in New England back when I was just a little kid who
didn't worry about the future. I played baseball, I flirted with
girls and I rode my bike all over whichever town I happened to be in.
For some reason, we move four times when I was young. Still, it was
the move to New Hampshire that was the final one. It was there that I
met Jed Bartlet. I was sixteen years old, almost a year younger, and
our friendship was instant. I knew he was never going to be a priest.
His hormones were far too active for that sort of career.
Good thing Abbey set him straight. From what I understand, it
wasn't too hard for her to do that, in any case.
What shall I do? The time is slowly ticking by and I find that
I'm stalling. I guess my love for this work takes a backseat to moods
like this. I guess I caught it from the staff. Sometimes it is
interesting though, just to sit here and think about everything...
anything. The past or the future, it hardly matters. In this moment,
I'm here. I'm the sum of all my yesterdays and I am the person who
will take on my future. It's all somewhat daunting...
My name is not Gerald!! Damn that Marbury! A simple phone
message from him ruins my train of thought. I'm sure he'd be glad to
hear that though. I really need to stop letting him get to me.
These kids really are great. I don't know how I'd survive
without them. Their passion, their intelligence, their devotion and
perseverance... It's admirable. We picked a good team with these
folks. It makes me proud when they argue in the Oval Office. It tells
me their brains are still functioning. It's these kind of people that
make me want to say "God Bless America" and actually mean it. I love
them as I love my family.
Time flies. I look around my office and smile weakly. The
darkened room feels like home. This is where my heart is. This is
where it belongs. Margaret comes in to tell me it's time to go home.
I can only reply:
"I am home."