No angst to report, readers. I was wrong about pretty much everything. There was so little to criticize and I felt so little inclination to do so. I just couldn’t get past the love: it enveloped me and I was happy and everything was good.
It was all a beautiful mess, a modernist composition: not discordant, but unpredictable and unique. We managed to miss the rally — not because we were late, but because my group somehow concluded that it was not happening where it was obviously happening. That was more than fine, really. I’d rather be walking than standing, and we consequently weren’t crushed for more than five minutes the whole seven hours we were on The Mall. (And the speeches are on YouTube.) We marched in a march that wasn’t the actual march, then caught the real thing after we thought events were wrapping up. We all teared up multiple times. There were artistic and inspiring and clever signs. I met lots of great women (most of whom were from Kentucky — should I be living in Kentucky?). The collective event was greater than the sum of its parts, but even the parts were beautiful. Here is my personal scrapbook:
- Delicious tapas dinner with my oldest friend on a patio in hipster DC, where we marveled at our ability to not only survive our histories more or less intact, but our luck in having the resources to meet for this historical moment, decades and a thousand miles away from our youth.
- Being able to provide C with sunglasses, N with a hat, and all 3 of my cohorts with snacks during the day.
- Discussing the difficulty of successfully addressing issues of identity and politics in theatre with my lovely host while we walked his roommates’ giant, affectionate, furball dog.
- Being spotted by a dear friend from 6th grade, one I haven’t seen in decades, in the middle of the million-person march.
- Ducking into a restaurant for a phone charge, where N and I drank shockingly affordable wine while watching news video of the women’s marches around the country and the world. Crying, as we simultaneously, impulsively, grabbed each others’ hands and said how much we loved each other, and how important our friendship is to us.
- Meeting C after our mid-day separation, at a coffee shop post-march, where she showed me a photo of her standing next to my sign, where I had left it, found among thousands of others abandoned in memorial for miles around.
- Being shut down by C’s spitfire aunt the morning of the march when we started criticizing ourselves (me) and the world (C) (though it could have easily been reversed), reminding us, like the children we still resemble, that we were putting unnecessary and untrue limitations on our collective capacity for creativity and action, as we stared wide-eyed and marveling back at her. I fantasized about having her as a female role model when I was a kid. C bragged, “See? What did I tell you?” Auntie groaned, “I should have never let you two have coffee.”
It occurs to me as I write this list that the political became personal that weekend in a way I had not ever expected that aphorism to manifest – it wasn’t the impact of policies on my life that viscerally resonated with me, but the impact of the collective response to politics that illuminated the personal connections I had with the people around me. The inclusive, vibrant, creative, positive action that I saw everywhere served to increase my love and appreciation for my own little life and the people in it, in a way I could feel every moment but didn’t recognize until now. Even the occasional negative signs and chants translated into a positive experience, as if (if only) I could extract the core of love and compassion that brought each person to that form of expression, and accept its constructive value, as well.
Gratitude. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Thank you, every one of you who was with us in body or spirit on January 21st.
You are fabulous creatures, each and every one…. The Great Work Begins. Tony Kushner, Angels in America.
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