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To myself, I’m the activist.

I work on campaigns, traveling around the country, telling my “personal story.” That’s what we call it.

In Texas, I tell my story in the assembly room of a plumbers’ and pipefitters’ union hall.

I talk to those assembled about the people who adopted my daughter.

They are caring parents, their home is filled with love, and they are gay.

“If we don’t elect a progressive candidate, their rights will be in danger.

We must protect families like theirs. Here’s how you can help.”

 

In Iowa, I tell my story in a high school auditorium.

I tell the audience about the birth mothers I’ve met who didn’t have abusive boyfriends, weren’t on drugs, had space in their lives for a new baby.

They wanted to grow their family, but they couldn’t afford to.

The cost of health care, the cost of living, demanded that they make the gut-wrenching choice of placing their baby.

“If we don’t elect a progressive candidate, this will continue to happen.

We must protect families like this. Here’s how you can help.”

 

In Washington, I tell my story during a commercial break in the living room where we’re holding a debate watch party.

I tell them about the man who impregnated me. I tell them how, despite his record of domestic violence, he was able to buy an AR-15 in under an hour.

I tell them that even after he pointed the gun in my face, even after I called the police, he still held parental rights over the child who was growing in my body.

“If we don’t elect a progressive candidate,” I say, “this will continue to happen.”

“We must protect women like this. Here’s how you can help.”

And as I’m traveling, I feel like I’m picking up pieces of myself.

My daughter is not only the last thing on my mind before I go to sleep and the first thing I think of when I wake up, she’s with me every moment.

Every night, I am exhausted emotionally and physically. I tell myself that I have to keep going. I need to make the world a better place, for her.

And then, finally, I come home to Austin.

Finally, I get to visit the tiny person who has been a presence in my life for the past year.

Finally, I get to see the person who is my reason for working, for breathing, for not giving up.

And as I walk over to her, I realize she doesn’t know any of this.

She doesn’t know that she has traveled with me, in spirit, across the country.

She doesn’t know that everything I do, I do because of her.

How could she? She’s three.

And so I realize, to her, I’m the stranger.