One of my favorite movies of all time is the 1997 Sci-Fi drama “Contact,” starring Jodie Foster (batting my eyelashes in swoon!) and Matthew McConaughey (Okayyyy, equally swoon-worthy!). The film follows a scientist named Dr. Arroway, a supremely pragmatic woman facing the spiritual overtones of her discovery of intelligent life outside Earth. In the midsts of her deep-space encounter, she’s in tears, unable to describe the beauty she says, “they should have sent a poet.” Returning from her trip, she pleads with Congress— a room of stone-cold skeptical faces — to trust that her transformative experience was real. Exacerbated, she shares that she experienced, “A vision… of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how… rare, and precious we all are. A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves, that we… that none of us are alone.”
On Friday night, in lovely company, I went to roller skating at our local gay nightclub. Dismayed to find they didn’t offer any rollerblades (product of the 90’s over here!) I strapped on the awkward skates and set aside my ego with a few robot-like shuffles. I forgot about how uncoordinated I looked, because I was blown over by the bravery flying past me in neon. Backwards skating, zig-zags, flashing lights, swiveling hips, oh my! I couldn’t type-cast this crowd — ageless, genderless, fearless! It was gorgeous and bizarre that a very adult Friday night was eerily similar to many years of my youth at Eason Hall; spinning around a circle with disco lights and sweaty feet. It was all about fun, celebrating being alive, and having agency away from our parents. Across time and space, both scenarios shared a careful harmony — spills and accidents happened, but hands shot out to help the slightly bruised skater to her/his feet. The movement and flow of the circle continued in perpetuity, or at least it did until we decided it was time to call it a night.
I woke up the next morning to six missed calls from my sister. My alarm decided to hit snooze on itself, and I was afraid of being late to meet friends for the Denver Women’s March I had on my calendar since the day after the election. I shimmied into my favorite jeans, laced my boots, grabbed two GIANT rainbow flags, and flew out the door with my sis.
We gathered at my favorite local restaurant and already I could feel the energy was sober and electric… a far cry from the sobbing, drunk bodies huddled around my house on election night. In the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election my habits towards politics have been manic/depressive:
- Obsessively read every article on each nomination and feel terrified and nauseous.
- Hide out from reading every article on each nomination and feel terrified and nauseous.
- Just feel nauseous… and terrified.
Between the nausea and terror, all I could muster was a few “what the fucks,” and grunts. If this was the rollerskating rink, I’d be be that person pressed against the wall in mismatched socks, wide-eyed in shock, dangling my skates by their shoestrings. Sufficed to say that post-election — outside of a peace vigil I attended in tears, and a few intelligent conversations — I neglected political community out of overwhelming grief.
They buried us in the ground. Little did they know we were seeds.
Saturday, January 21st, 2017 I re-discovered the community at the march. And although there are likely poets that captured it best, I can report my findings:
– A diversity of men wearing t-shirts in solidarity with women and challenging Patriarchy.
– A grandmother holding a sign saying “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this shit.”
– A woman holding a sign that read “WWRBGD — What would Ruth Bader Ginsburg Do?” (I almost kissed her for that one!).
– Rainbow flags.
– Pissed-off battle cries.
In solidarity, we shared posts from friends in Boston, DC, LA, and even Erie, PA. I received a pic from my older sister in a blizzard at the march in Anchorage, Alaska. She was hand-in-hand with indigenous women speaking out about the arctic and global warming. I was Overwhelmed by the bravery.
Saturday is being reported as a record-breaking gathering around one single event. I participated in a global march for peace, equality, justice, and love. Like so many others, I was part of the stream of marchers moving in an effortless flow down the streets of all cities — moving in perpetuity towards an inclusive future. However, while the signs are being recycled and the news cycles will spin us out of the headlines, what I’m trying to anchor is that this community is everywhere and and accessible each day. We belong to something bigger than ourselves. It’s vital (now more than ever) that we gather in public — in coffee shops, in our offices, at the laundromat, or bars — and hold the peace that we all experienced on Saturday. We don’t need to travel far in fancy spaceships to notice how precious we all are. It’s evidenced in all creative and honest ways we are resilient to the hate those in power promote. We are not alone. None of us are alone.