I am somewhat shy by nature. Some of you out there who are used to seeing me in different roles may be wondering, as did my children, how I can write that I am shy. Here’s the answer. Give me a role to fill; not shy. Leading a meeting; not shy. In front of a crowd of a couple hundred – same thing.
On the other hand, put me in a room full of people that I don’t know or with whom I’m supposed to make small talk…shy.
Which is part of the reason why I was so happy to see my friend Gilbert Cadena at the Post Election celebration for newly elected Supervisor Hilda Solis.
I was there because I admire her and her work. She has served as a community college trustee, congresswoman, and Secretary of Labor as well as being a recipient of a Profiles of Courage Award.
Gilbert is a professor at Cal Poly Pomona (Ethnic and Women’s Studies) so it made sense to see him there. A Latina being elected to office of supervisor should pique his interest; perhaps a topic for his students to write about.
As I saw him standing by himself I recognized that we were both taking it all in.
When I saw Gilbert I felt freed of the necessity to make small talk or to discuss the next election. I could just chat with my friend while we waited for election results.
Election nights can be like opera – there are cadenzas and curtain calls. Frilly or shorthand speeches that tell the story that brought us to the night. Exciting speeches that make the pulse race; that pulls together the energy of a hundred individuals to respond as one.
There was also a bit of San Gabriel Valley/LA history that was in the room. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D)was the first West coast Latina elected to congress; East Coaster Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) was first. Gloria Molina, looking up election results, was a groundbreaker in many different ways. Judy Chu is the first Chinese American woman elected to congress.
California State Controller John Chiang and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were there, too. I believe they are firsts from a couple of different affinity groups. And looking snappy in her too cool hat, the indomitable Dolores Huerta – often present when notable events take place.
In the midst of this political theater Gilbert told me his non-professorial reason for being there. He was Hilda’s friend. They had been friends since college. Back in the day he had been interested in politics and she in education. He laughed as he shared how ironic it was that each had ended up in the other’s field of study. I understood how he felt. Time can make your buddies become more like family than friends.
After the formal speeches Hilda shook hands with her supporters. I offered to take a couple of pictures of Gilbert and Hilda. Mostly they weren’t too good, but there were a couple that were keepers.
The first – the look of pride that comes from seeing your friend succeed at their work. The second – a moment of unspoken happiness shared between long time buddies.