Rodham: What If Hillary Hadn’t Married Bill? by Curtis Sittenfeld Read Online (FREE)
Read Rodham: What If Hillary Hadn’t Married Bill? by Curtis Sittenfeld online free here.
My marriage to Bill Clinton was the most consequential decision of my life. I said no the first two times he asked me. But the third time, I said yes. And I’d do it again.
—Hillary Rodham Clinton, What Happened
The world has no right to my heart.
—Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
May 31, 1969
There was a feeling I got before I spoke in front of an audience and sometimes also before an event that was less public but still important, an event that could have consequences in my life—taking the LSATs, for example, which I’d done in a classroom on the campus of Harvard. The feeling was a focused kind of anticipation, it was like a weight inside my chest, but it never exactly came from being nervous. I always had prepared, and I always knew I could do it. Thus the feeling was a sense of my own competence blended with the knowledge that I was about to pull off a feat most people thought, correctly or not, they couldn’t. And this knowledge contributed to the final aspect of the feeling, which was loneliness—the loneliness of being good at something.
My Wellesley graduation occurred on the green near the library, and I was scheduled to speak after Senator Edward Brooke, who was from Massachusetts. As I listened to him, I sat on the temporarily erected stage in my black gown and mortarboard. My father had traveled from Park Ridge, Illinois, without my mother or brothers, and was seated many rows back. I would be the first-ever student speaker at a Wellesley graduation.
I’d slept little the night before, between finishing my speech and being gripped by nostalgia. Even though Wellesley had, during the upheavals of the last four years, come to seem an almost embarrassingly cloistered place, I’d loved being a student there, loved the green lawns and the lake; loved the wood-paneled classrooms where I’d listened to lectures on Spinoza and quantum mechanics and argued about what it meant to live in a just society; and, of course, loved my friends, who were now headed in many directions.
Senator Brooke’s speech was winding down, and he still hadn’t explicitly mentioned recent protests or assassinations, civil rights or Vietnam. I understood then that addressing them fell to me. In a way, I’d understood this before the ceremony even started, and it had been the reason that my classmates and I had pushed for a student speaker. But the speech I’d written suddenly seemed inadequate, and I knew I needed to start with a rebuttal, a generational rebuttal, to the senator’s evasiveness. Because I was the one who’d be standing at the podium, doing so was my obligation.
Wellesley’s president, Ruth Adams, introduced me by saying that I was a political science major, president of the college government, and—perhaps this was a warning or form of wishful thinking on her part—“good humored, good company, and a good friend to all of us.”