Love Is Love
Why is immaterial. The fact that I cannot be surrounded by people, whether in an elevator or at the yard, without extreme discomfort, was the source of much preparation prior to my participation in the Women’s March in Sacramento, January 21st.
In retrospect it was time well-spent. Along with my coach, Gluten-Free Mama, I not only immersed myself in the midst of the throng, I reveled in it. I had my sign in black and orange colors, ("Human Rights: Acknowledge! Respect! Guarantee! ARG!) which was not attached to any kind of stick, so that it required both hands to hold it aloft, and I had my camera, housed in my San Francisco Giants fanny pack. I made extensive use of both.
We had arrived on Friday, the day before the event, so that we could case the joint. We had walked the ten minutes to the capital building, where a lively "Black Lives Matter" rally was in full swing, and I was able to establish my bearings, so that over the next two days, I would never get turned around.
|The park when we first arrived|
I gave much thought to my wardrobe because it would be in the forties when we went out in the morning, the wind would be blowing, with gusts as high as 28MPH, and there was a chance of rain before ten-and again, after four in the afternoon.
As a concession to the gravity of the venue, I wore socks with my sandals for the first time in recent memory. I’m not into socks. I wore woolies, sweat pants and cargoes, with enough pockets to house the contents of a small suitcase.
I wore a HappyDay Farms tee shirt and covered it with a wooly top, a HappyDay Farms hoodie and my official US Army raincoat, housed in my closet for the past 44 years. It still fit quite well, even being worn over the top of three other layers.
And stylish, you know?
I slept poorly (Department of Redundancy, Hall of Fame) the three nights prior to the march, as hard as that is to believe, and was therefore at my best the morning of the grand event. As long as I hung onto my backpack, I would be in good shape for the shape I was in. Therein lay the necessities for success-cannabis, water and food-in that order.
Gluten-Free Mama and I took photos of each other, mine making me look like an action figure, the way I was holding my sign. I see it as a combination of Hulk Hogan and Winnie the Pooh…
We had to walk past the capital building, about the same distance as from our motel, to reach the starting point of the march, a large park that was filling with protestors, but still had plenty of green showing. We had circled around to approach from the rear of the park, so as not to be at the front of the parade.
“That way we can let most of the crowd go first, and we can just be to the back of the arrangement. As long as we can hear, right?” I asked GF Mama.
“You are the one who needs to be in control of that, depending on your comfort level. Is this all right for you?” She gestured around at the rapidly expanding crowd, so colorful and animated.
“I’m doing well. Can you see that sign over there? The one that says, “Protest is Patriotic?” How cool is that? How about you? How are you doing?” The cold was a factor for GF Mama, more so than for me, and I wanted to make sure that she wasn’t ignoring her own comfort, at the expense of mine.
“Oh, I’m fine. Are you good where we are?” There were still people streaming in behind us, from two different directions, being fed by the streets that passed by the park. They just kept filling in all the gaps that still remained in the park.
“This is perfect, because as long as I can see the back of the crowd, I am good to go.” I had spotted another sign that had my heart in a vise, held by a little girl who looked overwhelmed, but determined, if there is such a thing. I asked her if I could take her picture, with her mom standing right behind her.
She beamed and held the sign just below her eyes, seemingly thrilled at being part of the process: “Love Is Love” read the sign.
|Love is the greatest power.|
“A WOMAN’S PLACE IS WHERE SHE WANTS TO BE!” another sign screams out, and the crowd proved that, including the police force which was predominantly female-and cordial.
That being said, there were plenty of men there also, equally indignant at the turn of political events, and marching alongside wives, daughters, girlfriends, cousins and friends.
“Even if you’re LITTLE, you can do a lot”
“Human Rights: Acknowledge! Respect! Guarantee! ARG!”
“I’m With Her” (Arrows pointing in all directions)
“There Is No Planet B”
“We Have the Power to CHANGE HERSTORY”
“Climate Change Is Real”
“ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.” (The period was a little heart.)
“Hands Off Our Civil Rights”
As the crowd gradually ebbed and flowed across the park, we ended up moving slowly forward with it, there still being no sense of closeness.
“As long as I don’t have people crowding me from behind, I can definitely handle this,” I said, noting that by now I could no longer see the street behind us for the crowd.
I thought back to my experience at Reggae on the River, 2015, my first one, and how I had maneuvered my way from one side of the throng in front of the stage, to the other, the process taking around ten minutes. The purpose was simply to see if I could do so, without being overwhelmed by a feeling of claustrophobia.
|Stick Figure played in 2015.|
As is frequently the case, I found that it was all in my head. Whereas I would not want to spend any length of time in the midst of the revelers, I found that being there, per se, was no longer a terrifying experience. It was the knowledge that I was doing so of my own accord, and not being forced, that was the key factor.
The fact that I can’t do AT&T Park any longer, is mute testimony to the longevity factor. In this case, “Some is Good” does not translate into “More is Better…”
But I was also on a pilgrimage, a personal journey that allowed me to put my actions where only my words had previously existed. I would have been more than happy to march in Laytonville, but by the same token, the farther outside my comfort zone, I traveled, the more I would feel I was contributing to the effort.
If we are going to be successful, we need to stand united, and be prepared to get outside that zone we used to call comfortable.
It took more than ninety minutes to ease the 300 feet across the park, and I was solid gold the entire time. Now, however, the crush was real, I had been jostled a half-dozen times, and we were converging on the avenue the march was following.
The two streets that bordered the park fed into the route and were jammed, and the park crowd was funneling itself into these two rivers of humanity. We had long since lost any ability to stop and let the flow ebb around us.
I was still doing well for all of this, simply because the transformation had taken an hour-and-a-half to complete, allowing me to adjust accordingly. Now, however, as we were about to be sucked into the crush of the street, my radar was screeching like a smoke alarm when the microwave popcorn has just burst into flames.
“So, uh, hey Doll, this is not specifically too good for me. I think I need to pause.” All that was between us and the street, with the crowd pressing at our backs, were the cars that were lined along the street, each with an aisle into the street, through which the crowd was filtering.
I had instinctively glommed onto a light post, located alongside a small sedan, one that I could easily see over, so as not to block any of the aisles. I had to share the pole with a woman who was possibly my age, possibly in her twenties-I have no idea. All I know is I head GF Mama talking to her.
“I’m just not sure,” was this woman’s clarifying statement. I could identify.
I clung tightly to the same light pole myself, for the same reason.
Tomorrow: We're Marching! We're Marching!