Last week, after the Women’s March, I was worn out from marching, and probably from the celebratory drinking we did, too. The day after was hard. What now? I was exhausted and more than a little depressed, and I slept through church.
This week, I got to church, where our priest went slowly through the Beatitudes, without any political reference, which was still enough to make me tear up more than once, and then he ended with, “Some of us from here are going to a protest in Battery Park at 2.”
Was it necessary to explain how the gospel connected to a sudden and illogical block on people coming to America? It wasn’t.
He could have talked about how Jesus and his friends lived under an oppressive regime and how Jesus always reached out to people he had been told were his enemies, but of course that was not necessary.
Everyone applauded, which has been happening in the last month, people applauding sermons, even Episcopalians, who would generally rather die than have feelings.
I was really not sure I could make this protest, though, I was dressed to walk a block to church and two blocks to my writing space, wearing my tall shoes, and my pretty ankles were bare between leggings and shoes.
But how could I not, I was right there, so I parked in a Pret a Manger with my egg salad sandwich for an hour. In an impressive gesture of self care, I even ate an entire banana, which I would normally find impossible. Everyone knows half a banana is always enough.
I walked down to the park, I had been putting it off until time, I had no idea how many people might be there.
There were a lot of people.
Castle Clinton, which is an old fort, a circle, that has the ticket booth for Statue of Liberty tickets in the center of it, was the front of the rally. Another circle, north of Castle Clinton, was where everyone was gathering.
The priest said that being “poor in spirit” meant you knew you needed God.
I couldn’t get on board with that, which is strange, right, for such a religious person as I am. Need God? Either I feel God is so much a part of me, this is a silly question, like do I need a head? Or I feel like the concept of God makes me squirm and limits me, I feel more like the truth is I have a spirit, and that spirit is what is real, not any of the other stuff around that people are always trying to tell you is true, money, stuff, power.
It just pushes my buttons, the idea I could need anything. A lot of my attention in life has focused on how I can not need anything. Not much money. Not much space.
I’m not saying that’s great, but that’s how I am.
For the third time since the inauguration, I was in a friendly crowd, periodically yelling, doing our chants. This crowd was less with the signs– the rally was as unexpected as the president’s bizarre executive order.
We chuckled when the leaders tried to get us to chant things that varied too much (first time: “Muslims,” second time: “immigrants,” third time: “refugees,” is way too much). When they tried to get us to do one that didn’t work too well, I said, “It’s better when it rhymes,” and people chuckled again.
Even the biggest problems have to be faced with laughter.
I listened to both our senators. Senator Schumer talked about his middle name being Ellis, and his daughter’s middle name being Emma (for the Island and poet Lazarus, respectively), and everyone thought that was perfectly nice. But Senator Gillibrand, who has voted against all the president’s nominees, got a much better introduction, and a lot more cheers. Maybe Schumer has a long game here, I can respect that, but at this moment, his softer stance doesn’t appeal.
We were all surrounding the biggest lawn in the park. Protesters started walking across it, toward the front, and the rest of eyed them nervously. Were they supposed to be doing that? They were. They kept coming, and someone at the microphone explained the police were letting people in there. The streets were too full.
I felt a little bad for anyone who wanted to see the Statue of Liberty today.
Once they got through the protesters, they should have been okay to get on the ferry, though.
I gave the protest an hour. My feet hurt. I was cold. I hadn’t gotten my coffee yet, which meant I was going to get a headache. I hadn’t gotten to my writing space yet.
I squeezed through the crowd going all the way back. As I was leaving, a lot of people were just showing up. See, I give an hour, they give another hour, it all works out. I went down to the R train tracks, and across the way, I saw that people were so crowded, trying to get up to the protest with their signs, that it was taking forever. That station is small and narrow. Everyone was patient.
A group of kids kept doing the chants. They were having a good time with “We are immigrants” and “Tell me what democracy looks like/this is what democracy looks like!”
By the time our train came, there was such a crowd on our platform, we had a hard time getting on, and the conductor politely said, “Work with me folks, let’s get these doors closed.” We did.
The R train and I have a troubled relationship right now, though. Two weeks ago, R train decided to go Express, taking me way past my stop, so I had to get off and go back.
Today, a mom had just told her kid, “It’s twelve stops,” and the kid had just said, “Aw!” And I remembered how parents can’t control how far away things are. Even when they really want to.
The conductor announced the train was going express, and I said, “Man, this happened last time I was on this train, too!”
The kid said, “But my mom just said it was twelve stops, and now it isn’t!”
“Well, you win some, you lose some,” I said.
“Yep,”the mom said.