The first good thing about college is that CJ doesn't feel as though she sticks out. Okay, she sticks out; she's 5'11", she'd have to trawl the basketball team for potential boyfriends if she were honestly concerned.
(Which, for the record, she isn't. Any guy who can't handle her height probably wouldn't be able to keep up his end of a decent conversation.)
But she's not the only person sitting up straight in class, taking avid notes, staying up late to finish her reading. Paying attention.
It feels surprisingly good not to always be the smartest person in the room.
Cal is huge. There are six coffee shops within walking distance of her apartment alone, and noodle bars outnumber pizza joints.
Political science makes sense in a way few other things ever have. CJ can get inside the mental landscape of a government and understand immediately why they made the choices they did. It's exhilarating.
She starts volunteering at EMILY's List in the semester's third week. Most of the guys in her program probably think she's doing it because she had an abortion herself, somewhere along the way, but she doesn't care. She knows why, and that's all that matters.
DC is a far cry from California. The first thing she notices is that everyone's so relentlessly normal.
But she doesn't have time to miss anything, because once they start the transition to the new administration, nobody has time to sleep, much less think about what used to be home. The campaign trail didn't hold a candle to this.
Still. The first time she stands at the front of the empty White House press briefing room and realizes that in a few short hours it's going to fill with reporters, she can't help the way her heart flips with joy.