This year, Capitol Republican Women is excited to share stories of our members each month on what CRW membership means to them, or why they consider themselves proud Texans or proud members of the Republican Party.
By Sydney Suss, CRW Member and Austin YR Liaison
On a normal day, I was supposed to be in my family enterprise class. On a normal day, we all would probably have been at school. On a normal day, my dog would have been waiting inside the house for me to get home. Instead, I was about 45 minutes away from home when I got the text. Texas Tech had sent me a message saying something about my house being on FIRE?
Suddenly, my neighbor called. She told me to get to my house as soon as possible. I called my parents and told them there was a fire. I did not know what was going on. I did not know if it was a bad fire, or maybe just in the backyard. How could anything have happened? No one was home!
I will never forget reaching the light at the corner before my house. I felt like I was in a movie. We only made it about 50 yards because there were 4 fire trucks and cops and news trucks blocking the street. I jumped out of the moving car and started running. The feeling of sheer terror fell over me as I stumbled up to the house. I looked around and saw smoke rising from every shattered window. White smoke was rising beneath the roof and the entire house looked like it had been in a washing machine. Firefighters stood around hosing it down from every angle.
My sister, roommate, and I walked through the busted front door. The living room was destroyed — most of the ceiling had fallen onto the floor and covered all of the furniture. I ran up to my turntable that was sitting on a tiny table. I started throwing the ceiling off of the turntable — a gift from my 15th birthday — with a desperate panic in my breath. At my family home in Austin I had almost 100 vinyl records stacked up in the game room, but 50 of my favorite vinyls I took with me to Lubbock. I walked toward the kitchen and looked up. The roof was gone. Sunlight was streaming into the room, yet it was still dark from the soot. All our appliances were black. The practically new granite countertops were no longer white. My mother’s favorite clock had fallen off the wall and lay broken onto the counter. What had once been a room was now a barren floor with a frame for walls.
I stepped into my room and noticed the ceiling that had completely fallen onto my bed. Everything was ruined. The clothes I’d left out could not be seen under the drenched ceiling and soot. Books I’d been collecting since the 7th grade and journals I had written in everyday, once safely stacked up on a bookshelf in the corner, were now ruined. All of the experiences that had come into play were exposed in these documents. All my most intimate and personal thoughts were tarnished. This was the first time in my life that I only had the items on my back. While this is not truly a comparison to really being homeless, a feeling of emptiness consumed my stomach.
Three weeks after the fire, COVID-19 shut down the world. I moved home to Austin, which happened to work out perfectly because I had no home in Lubbock. During this time, I managed to finish the semester on the Dean’s List, then enrolled in full time classes for the summer. I received two internship offers, but both fell through due to the pandemic.
But then in July, I began two internships: one with the Travis County GOP and one with the Texas Young Republican Foundation. Within three weeks of starting these internships, a campaign hired me on to work in volunteer engagement and recruitment. From there, I began a new job in December 2020 as a Legislative Director in the Texas House of Representatives. I find myself constantly grateful over the course of the last year in knowing I would not have this incredible opportunity to be involved in the process of legislation if it wasn’t for moments of change and desperation. Change only comes when you are uncomfortable.
Life was unpredictable before COVID-19, and it will remain the same after. I am the happiest I have ever been as an advocate and leader for the values and morals of Republicans. More so, I’ve found purpose as Membership Chair for the Austin Young Republicans and member of Capitol Republican Women. The only time I had ever seen a fire burn down an entire house was in the movies. This was not a common occurrence, and yet it could happen to anyone. The last few years of my life have undergone tremendous amounts of change, as naturally, I am in a very transitional stage of life. Whether you are a young professional, new mother, beginning a new job, moving, creating a new habit — there is necessary change. I can reflect on the time before I entered college and acknowledge the lack of understanding I had on what was about to become my first big adjustment. Years later, I have only recently accepted the things which make me the most uncomfortable, are when I grow the most. While I never would have chose to live through a house fire, and then a pandemic, I have learned that there are things in the world that are beyond me I have no control over, and I am grateful for the opportunities these radical changes have brought forth in me so I may better advocate for conservative principles, Republican platforms and candidates, and grow in the ground where this phase of life has planted me.