Spring break is ending for the legislature.
From now until 6 p.m., Friday, May 13th, there will be only increasing pressure, increasing tension, increasing opportunities for the train to go off the tracks again. Only seven weeks remain. Only seven weeks.
They are a special seven weeks for many lawmakers. This is the last time they will live in this arena, this place where many of them feel they are only now learning how things work or can work or should work. This is the last seven weeks they will be somebody.
They will get a day, or two, in September for the veto session, a footnote to this part of their lives. But in terms of the meaningful struggle, these seven weeks are all that remain for them.
For many of them, this is the last time they will know the intensity, the heat, the adrenaline rush that builds and builds and builds until the last gavel falls.
For many of them, they will never feel this important again, or be this important again. And they will spend the rest of their lives among fellow citizens who have not known how it is to have been what they were, and don’t really care. And when January rolls around again, this seven-week world will only be an echo in their memories.
When the gavel falls on that Friday night, they are done. They can never come back. Term limits will never let them sit at that desk and never let them again be part of the passionate process of defining how they and their fellow citizens will live. Or die.
Seven weeks, and then those who are their friends, their comrades in the hallways, will no longer pay them attention for they will no longer be useful to them. After the thunder and lightning of their last legislative session, the place where once they were somebody will be cold and distant.
They will be able to return and only sit on a side bench or stand in a side gallery and get up and wave when they’re introduced while others quickly turn away to fill their time in the pressure cooker. Their desk, their chair, their office will be occupied by someone else until those people, too, hear the gavel fall for the last time.
They are seven weeks away from being only pictures on the walls in the hallways, pictures that thousands of people pass by every day—and will pass by every day for generations to come– without looking, or, if looking, find no meaning in the images.
Seven weeks. And then they’re gone.