“Into the Fire (and Mike Pence’s office?)”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter Five

Outside of my time in Mike Pence’s office I was also more widely exposed to the vibe of Washington, D.C. as I rode the Metro each day, engaged in the program’s other activities and attended social outings with fellow students. I was unfamiliar with any big city, and D.C. gave no quiet introduction. One day as I stood on the train I was sexually assaulted by a man in his late 20s or early 30s. He was wearing a polished suit and sharing the same metal support pole as I was, and after he shoved his briefcase fully between my legs and up to my crotch I confusedly wormed my way out of the circumstance.

During a social gathering in Georgetown that was held in the brick courtyard between our residence buildings, students wandered around drunkenly or made their way downtown to enjoy the nightlife. I shyly turned down an invitation to join a group of attractive women heading for the Metro only to pass a lonely girl sitting on her building’s stoop who asked me if I wanted to go upstairs. I was no angel, and later I attempted to chase down the ladies that had gone downtown ahead of me, but there was something eerie and a bit too soulless about the prospect of simply banging a stranger for the sake of it.

Yes, we were college-aged. Yes, a congressman’s schedule is often too busy for him to personally respond to every note he receives from a constituent. And yes, big cities come with big city things. But this was supposed to be a gathering of the future leaders of America working within some of the most idealistic political organizations in the nation. What I saw and felt was akin to an emotionally repressive Christian youth summer camp where the content remains sterile and dry while the counselors look on and the social pendulum swings swiftly into dank and dirty places when the lights turn low. It was the same old bullshit I had always experienced, if on a grander scale.

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