Now it suddenly seems I have another life, one that feels dramatically different in many ways from what came before the election, just two months ago. Now there is a poster in the front window of the apartment letting the world, or my little corner of it, know that “Hate Has No Home Here” and one on the dining room wall stating, among other very basic beliefs, that “Science is real” because now apparently that’s something we are driven to put in writing and declare to houseguests without a second thought as if it’s a radical act. Maybe next it’ll be “We breathe air” framed prettily in the kitchen and “The floor is below us” sprucing up the bedroom.
Now I get up early to start reading the news and signing petitions, making phone calls, and sending emails, depending on the priority actions of the day. I’m strongly imploring those we put in office to oppose or continue to support, and when I read about a Member of Congress standing on the side of good or love or the poor or the sick or the disabled or female or in any way standing up loudly to those who are doing wrong, I find their social media sites and sign up to follow them, taking a moment to write: Thank you.
Thank you. Now I’m thanking politicians I’ve never heard of, newspapers and reporters and TV anchors that I’ve never considered being grateful for, sometimes thanking them simply for being brave enough to say or publish a 3-letter word: lie. After a long day’s work, if the boys aren’t here, I come home to make a few more calls and read more news and then decide if I’ll be knitting more pussyhats for friends and family, or will I read one of the books piled high on my nightstand – maybe the Rebecca Solnit or Michelle Alexander or the 3-part John Lewis series or Howard Zinn. Books my tired news-reading eyes aren’t always up for at night, but that are calling to me. These are not the books that used to sit on my nightstand.
Now when the kids are here we watch Selma on the weekend and listen to the WBEZ radio documentary The View from Room 205 in chapters over several dinners. I sign up for action meetings in hopes of finding a group that seems like a good fit. Our Christmas tree is still standing because I’d rather stay up to speed on the world around us than painstakingly take one ornament down after another and put the thing away. Soon, I tell myself. But there is a fight at hand and it feels a lot more important than any concern over prolonging Christmas into late January.
Now we have a swirl of news day in and day out that feels nothing short of terrifying. We have a tantruming man-child of a fascist rather than a President and we find ourselves repeating to our children This is not normal, this does not happen in our country, over and over and over. But it is happening. It is a constant tornado of Sean Spicer’s lies for his boss and Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts and the EPA and Rex Tillerson and De Vos with her grizzly bears and a fight over the size of inaugural crowds and rogue National Parks officials daring to tweet after an executive order and conservative legislators calling Women’s Marchers whiny and mentally ill and I keep looking at the source of news articles just praying even one will say TheOnion.com so that I can laugh, relieved, and yet it never does anymore and it just. keeps. coming. like one punch to the gut after another. It’s what passes for the news now, and it’s nothing less than surreal.
And so of course now we Resist. Now we gather peacefully together and show each other, our President, and the world who we really are. I walk into the Chicago airport alone on a Saturday morning, with nothing more than a small purse stuffed with phone chargers, a toothbrush, and clean underwear, and hug strangers at the gate for our flight headed to D.C., one of whom puts her arm around me, crying, as random people at the gate photograph the whole lot of us, and fly myself across the country only to get out right into the middle of a crowd of over a million people to stand up and be counted and make my voice heard. A city I haven’t been to since I was six years old and had my father take pictures of me with a baby doll in our hotel room. But now I’m back and instead of taking smiling photos with a baby doll I chant and cry and sing and laugh with the pink-hatted strangers packed in tightly around me holding brilliant signs, and know that I could trust any one of these people to take care of me if I needed to, and realize that, in fact, I do need to and will for years to come.
Now when the news is bad I am drawing some solace and energy from the experiences collected that day: the old women marching in wheelchairs, the men loudly claiming their feminist stances, the babies asleep on their mothers’ chests, the waves of cheering moving through the enormous crowd, the awesome young woman holding a sign that proclaimed It’s my bachelorette party and I can march if I want to, the young people energized like never before, the easy buddying up with others whenever needed, Madonna performing Express Yourself in a black pussyhat, the Chinese man who drives my Uber back to the airport who keeps saying, in broken English and in an awed tone, I have been here 10 years. I have never seen so many people before. And it seemed like…it was all mothers? I don’t correct him because I’m too tired and, well, I know what he means. The feeling of certainty that we are on the right side of history and we are not only fired up but also very ready to go. That simply being there I was communicating my strong values directly to my children. And of knowing, because we felt it in our own crowded bodies and heard the joyful noise and experienced it with our whole selves in ways that were both exhilarating and exhausting: there are enough of us and we can do this. This is not the end but only the beginning; it was the coming-out party for the Resistors, and it happened all over the world that day.
Now I also find solace in an evening at home with my own children. With a teenager who follows the news and wants to talk about what’s going on, who can laugh at the most wicked memes with me and share in my shock at the day’s events, and then play me the awesome music he helped mix in the sound engineering studio at his public school. And with a middle schooler who wants to learn to make the turkey tacos so that next Tuesday he can get them started while I’m on my way home from work, and who chats and catches me up on his life of the last five days while we cook the simple meal together.
Now we remind ourselves that this truly is a marathon, not a sprint. And while we can’t afford to look away or bury our heads in the sand for even a day, we will need to pace ourselves, knowing that if we pause to talk to the children and listen to their music and make dinner together, and yes, maybe even put that Christmas tree away before Valentine’s Day, one of those other joyful noisemakers – one of those women or men who put themselves in the same place we did last Saturday, standing shoulder to shoulder with us in body or in spirit – can be trusted to take care of those calls and petitions tonight. There will be more to do tomorrow. But now we rest.