"Just coffee? No expresso?"
"Yea, coffee is just fine for me. Maybe tomorrow," I respond, though all around me the collection of journalists and reporters are ordering double shot lattes. And it's only Monday. Most of the media isn't fresh from a weekend of relaxation as I was, but rather exhausted from traveling from all over the country to jump straight into work. Having flown in a week prior to attend an academic seminar, I had the weekend to prepare for this chaotic and surreal experience.
And that is how it has been so far, chaotic and surreal. As an intern for Voice of America this week and attending The Washington Center's convention program last week, I have been plunged into foreign waters. But as far as I can tell, I am floating along just fine. It was a little confusing the first morning, trying to figure out how to navigate through the secure zone maze. Finding the air conditioned covered walkways made the trek easier. Yes, you heard me right, covered air conditioned walkways. With Florida weather spontaneous to begin with, and the threat of Isaac bearing down upon the city, it's no shock a tented walkway was erected to connect the convention center to the forum, allowing for easy and dry movement between the two buildings. Eventually I got my bearings and made it to VOA's encampment.
VOA's main setup was inside the Tampa Convention Center. The convention center houses all the media, from radio to television, even Google and Facebook. The twenty-four hour news cycle was all around me while press conferences, interviews and talk shows streamed live every detail. There was so much happening, even with the convention being recessed. Early in the morning, I was able to enter the Tampa Bay Times Forum and set foot on the convention floor. I stood on the floor, staring, just trying to take everything in. I was standing on the convention floor where the delegates would vote and create history, where Romney would accept his nomination and possibly go on to win the presidency. And what a feeling that was.
The rest of the day was a blur, meeting this corespondent and that reporter. I even got to see the dress rehearsal for some of the performers the next day. When it came time to go, I can't say I wanted to leave. But my mood was cheered right away when we ran into Newt Gingrich on the way out. Of course, I debated for a solid two minutes whether or not it was him. I decided as he was outside the secure perimeter, it was only someone who shared a striking resemblance. Upon meeting up with my friends later, they all showed me the pictures the took with Gingrich. But perhaps it was all for the best that I did not stop for a picture. I made my hotel shuttle not two minutes before another downpour started.
I know this might all sound a little sappy, and I think it should. Much of the media staff at the convention has had this experience already. For many, this is the fourth, fifth, or even 12th time they have been to a national convention. They say yes, it is is exciting. But nothing extraordinary. The glamour and charade is no longer there. But for me it is. This is my first step into the world of politics and media. Though maybe one day conventions will not be so spectacular to me as this one, to not appreciate the moment would be a waste. I have been given an extraordinary opportunity to learn, experience and be a part of history. And that is what I plan to do.
"Just coffee? No expresso?"