"Have you gotten a text yet?"

"Not yet."

I'm sitting in a Ramen shop in Queens, next to my close friend and fellow Democrat, Gaby. Over noodles and sake, we await the text message that will tell us who Clinton has chosen to be her running mate.

"I can't wait to tell my grandchildren about how president Hillary Clinton announced her vp pick over text message," I tell Gaby as I try to smoothly wind the noodles onto my chopstick. "She's the first person to make an announcement like this over text message, right?"

We agree that she is, and then continue enjoying our food, frequently checking our phones, poised and ready for the update.

It's no coincidence that Gaby and I are eagerly awaiting the news together. In high school, our shared love of Jon Stewart brought us together, and our shared passion for all things liberal sustained our friendship. Like me, she is an aspiring Democrat, eager to get to work for the progressive cause. And like me, she has been a Clinton supporter since day one.

We've both reached a point in our life where it's time to set out on a course and make decisions about our careers. Neither of us has laid plans in stone. We both simply aim to find employment helping a Democrat win a race or legislate effectively. Aside from that, the future couldn't be more foggy-- law school? A masters in public policy? Should Gaby try to get a job in DC with her local member of Congress? Should I pursue my desire to become a fundraiser? Gaby and I talk about someday opening our own campaign consulting firm together, but that plan could not be farther away. I don't know where I'll be in one year, let alone ten.

Gaby's phone buzzes.

Within minutes, we're googling Tim Kaine-- he's from Virginia, he's a senator, he's pro choice, he speaks fluent Spanish. Within days, I become well versed in Kaine's accomplishments. Cecile Richards tells the world that Clinton and Kaine make up the most pro-choice, pro-women's health ticket in the history of our nation. I learn that Kaine was a lawyer, professor, mayor, governor, and senator. Quickly, Tim Kaine becomes larger than life. Much like Hillary, he's led a full life, worked tirelessly for the public good, and is a tried and true Democrat.

Clinton and Kaine together constitute the most qualified Presidential and Vice President team we have ever seen. Hillary alone was already a marvel --her resume overflows with deep experience in every area of political life. With the addition of Kaine, their ticket has the most impressive joint resume the American public has ever seen.

As I learned more and more about Tim, I found myself in awe, and, at the same time, wanting to get to the core of who he is. So I started digging for little things-- the bills he worked on, the law firms he worked at as a young man. I wanted to find the smaller details of his professional life, the building blocks of his career that led him to where he is.

In doing so, I came across his first case. He was handed the case by a senior partner at his first law firm. It was to defend a woman who had been denied an apartment in Virginia because of her race. He fought for her, and went on to fight for countless others. In his own words, after law school he came to the city of Richmond "wanting to do things to help others, but not exactly sure what that would be." For Tim, that wound up being housing rights.

Young Tim Kaine, civil rights attorney.

I watched a video of him speaking as Governor in 2006 about that first case, and again as a Senator in 2012. That case clearly shaped him, gave him a perspective that stuck with him in the years to come.

"We settled it shortly after we filed it," Kaine said to the Senate floor. "So in that sense I don't have a big momentous trial story or anything to tell, but it nevertheless made a huge impression on me as a young attorney…" Kaine goes on to explain how this case made him understand the importance of home and the way some Americans are unjustly persecuted for simply seeking a home.

And that belief in justice for everyday Americans is what has been driving him for seventeen years. He worked for those who were turned away from a home because of unfair reasons, and he worked to ensure every person found a place to call their own. He knew racism and ableism in housing existed, but it wasn't until this case that he was brought face to face with it, and saw the very human toll it takes on its victims.

As I try to plan a life that is meaningful, I cannot help but think about how Tim Kaine did not plan the trajectory his life has taken. He simply planned to try to do some good, in some way. Earlier, I said I didn't know where I'll be in one year. And that is still technically true. But, after learning about Tim Kaine's life, andthinking about how and where he began his career, I realize I do know. I'll be working for a cause that means something to me, and I will be gaining experiences that will inform me for years to come. Who knows--this may be my start on the path to be Tim Kaine, when I grow up. Or a Charlotte Martin look-alike, in the best possible way.

Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, outside the Richmond home they've lived in for nearly 25 years.


August 14, 2016

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