Anita Mechler: I March

I’m currently writing this first draft of my post on the road, somewhere between Ohio and Chicago, heading back from the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. on January 21, 2017. I’m a passenger in a car next to my soul sister, which is being driven by my dear friend and former right-hand woman on the derby track, and directly behind one of the many important women in my life who always steers me in the right direction. On my forearms are the faded Sharpied numbers of the National Lawyers Guild and my soul sister’s brother who said he would bail us out of jail, if arrested. In my bag are unused travel-sized bottles of antacid that I thankfully did not have to use as an antidote for being tear-gassed. On the seat next to me is the Sunday New York Times with depictions of marches all over the cover. Our little car is surrounded by fog and the night sky as we speed to our own beds and showers.

This weekend was heartening in its surprises, as well as a reminder of how far we still have yet to go. I was delighted by the age ranges and the diversity of faces and voices, and of course, the signs from artistic to clever to ridiculous and hilarious. I remember the conversations I had with my best friend leading up to the march as we discussed our reservations, our reluctance to think of the worst case scenarios, how we could create a trip that wasn’t overly stressful. I recall also the conversation that I had with my mom with her concerned for my safety as the emotion of all of those I was marching for rose up in my throat. In the back of our minds, we silently thought about the possibility of being killed, of a bomb going off in the crowd, of being shot at the most and being arrested at the least. I recognize that I am privileged that these were merely worries and not realities. Others who have fought and continue to fight for their rights are not so fortunate.

As I write the second part of this on my commute into work, the world this morning feels like a slightly gentler place as I bask in the memories of this weekend and the hope that it has given me. It probably means that I’m feeling gentler to those around me. My normal commute can be aggravating, aggressive, lonely, bumping against strangers and being bumped up against, each of us trying to escape into the inner worlds of our phones. This morning, I wanted to the close the gap of strangeness and hostility that I often feel for my other passengers. As I walked the streets of my second city, Chicago, I tried to imagine the hundreds of thousands of people who marched here while I marched with another contingent in D.C. I want to know who these people are and smile at them and thank them. I feel the emotions of it all welling up in me again.

It’s been an emotional journey and I imagine it will continue to be. I want to hold close what I felt during this weekend and beyond:

  • How powerful women and allies can be when we focus and concentrate our effort in our localities and all over the world.
  • How much I witnessed kindness, openness, collaboration, and a hopeful trend toward a multitude of voices being heard.
  • How at first I wasn’t super into the pussy hats because it is not my personal style but how important it is to have a visual reminder, in whatever way an individual sees fit, to express their solidarity with the movement.
  • How important it is to march for those who may not be able and to recognize the sometimes “unsexy” work that has been done and is being done “behind the scenes” that needs to recognized and continued with more involvement.
  • How incredible and creative and funny and internally beautiful my vast network of friends, families. and allies have become. We struggle together, march and sometimes pee in public side-by-side. Sometimes we argue with each other, but always trying to listen to each other, to consider another view, to make room for each other at the dinner table and at the table of ideas.
  • How important it is to thank those who came before us and to protect those who will come after us.

If you are looking for continuing the momentum, look around you, gather your strengths and your skills, read up on those things that confuse you, close that gap of strangeness between you and your allies and join us.



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