March in New York

protest-photoI met friends and we took the subway to Grand Central.  As we got closer and closer, more and more people had signs with them.

One of us had heard there was an entrance to the march there, and we didn’t have to go all the way to the UN, which was the official beginning.  We never saw anything official.

Just getting off the train was a trick, it was packed until people had to wait for multiple trains to fit onto one.  Grand Central was very full, as well.  We arrived about 2:30, when the marching had been going on for at least three hours already.

Stepping out into the street, the street was full, so much that we could only step forward occasionally.  Protesters were up on the overpass that goes up to and around Grand Central.  Grand Central is one of my favorite places in the city, so it was sweet to have it be part of my day.

We also walked past Rockefeller Center, another one of my beloved spots.  Past Atlas, past St. Patrick’s.  Odd to see an H & M with no one in it, and no line, we joked about it being a good time to go shopping.

Sometimes, down 5th Avenue, we were on the sidewalk, sometimes on the street.  Barricades were set up to separate the street protest from the sidewalk civilians, but the police made no effort to keep them separate, or to stop anyone from climbing over the barricades or standing on top of them.  For that matter, around Grand Central people were climbing on things, just to wave their signs or yell and inspire more cheering, and that was totally peaceful, too, except for the guy behind me who was like, “I wish he would get down, I’m afraid he’s going to fall.”

No one fell.  No one was arrested.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the streets, and as we snotty New Yorkers kept reminding each other, this was a small portion of our power.  The most furious and free of us were in DC.  A whole ton of angry New Yorkers were out of town.  We marchers were actually the leftovers.

It was hard to absorb the size of the thing.  Going down a long avenue in Manhattan, there were people as far as you could see both directions, but who knew how far that was exactly?  We were never anywhere near a beginning or an end.  When we decided to break for drinks, the bar was packed with people who would cheer and jeer and chant according to what they showed on CNN over the bar.  In line for the bathroom some ladies in their sixties told me, “This is just the beginning.  We have to focus on the midterms.”  “Oh, I know,” I said.

There were plenty of men, maybe 1/4 of us were men.  Plenty of kids, little kids.  I never felt the least bit unsafe of claustrophobic.

When a cop, through a bullhorn, told us that up ahead we could turn right or left, someone yelled back, “We only go left!” and he chuckled into his microphone.  “Okay, I know,” he said.

To see the city so deserted was eerie.  I was in Manhattan for two hours without seeing a street that had traffic on it.  Streets just closed, people wandering down them, people instead of cars.  Our streets, indeed.

The evening I spent celebrating, chatting, dissecting, worrying with the women I went with, most of whom I met just that day.  That felt good.

This morning, though, I was exhausted, emotionally, which makes me exhausted physically.  Is the worst over?  Or is this the worst, coming up?  Wasn’t I supposed to feel invigorated by the march?

How do I get to a healthy way of living under this cloud?  It feels like a cloud.  I am Charlie Brown.

There were fewer people at the inauguration of a man with desperately low approval ratings, a man who inspired enormous protests only one day into his presidency, than at the inauguration of a man with very high ones, who had a nice peaceful first day in office.  It’s funny to argue over something that makes so much sense.  But that’s where we are.

Perhaps what matters most now is commitment to self-care.  I got my antidepressants re-upped so I’m the real me, the sane me.  I got as-needed meds for when I need an extra cushion.

I’m thisclose to joining the gym at my work and resuming the exercise I need, more for my spirit than for my body, but the body doesn’t mind.

I”m not up to actually doing yoga, except a few poses while I watch TV.  And that’s a perfectly good place to start.

I have a new commute, which means I need to alter my daily prayer and meditation time somehow, get recommitted to that.  If I only try 10 minutes, on the train, I can keep it most of the time.

I need a new book on spiritual issues.  I like to always have one I’m working one, and I recently finished several.

I need to take time today to lovingly clean my apartment.  Sometimes I hate it, but that grounds me and helps me claim my space and feel safe.

Preparing for little, regular actions, like I love the idea of putting together a stack of postcards, pre-stamped, ready to go out to politicians.  I hate making phone calls, but I’m getting used to the idea of doing that, at least now and then, quickly, before I can get too pissy.

And I had good results from a 24-hour media fast.  That is something I may need to do again.

I’m horrified we had to march.  I can’t believe we are where we are.  I’m so glad I could be there, though, and so grateful I got to go with some thoughtful, fun women.

I hope we can contain the damage.  I hope we can get this guy out right away.  I know the only good thing to come out of this is that it showed us what power we have.

“Didn’t they vote?” He said.

We do vote, and we march, we write letters and sign petitions and boycott too.  Then we take a nice hot shower and have a nice cup of coffee.

Enjoy, friends.  Celebrate yourself.  Thanks for showing up.

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