Day 74. Preparing for Resistance March
1. Orthotics for heel pain
2. Ibuprofen for knee pain
3. Feminist tee shirt (lots to choose from)
4. Sign covered in plastic to use as umbrella
5. Pink hat that is actually orange but the best I could do in a pinch
6. Review of bathrooms along march route:
San Francisco Public Library, BART stations, food court in Westfield Centre, Palace Hotel, MacDonald’s at 2nd and Market, Hyatt Regency, countless Starbucks and, last resort, alley on Jessie Street
7. One dollar bills in case people need them for BART or MUNI
8. Rough draft of chant which goes: “He’s wrong . . . we’re strong! He lies . . . we rise! He’s a twit . . . we won’t quit!” (Still working on that last one.)
9. Power nap before heading out.
10. Commitment to using my anger, grief and fear to create effective ways to support resistance!
Day 77. Close encounters
Seventy-seven days after the election, the story feels different now. We saw each other, heard each other, touched each other, protected each other from the rain and snow and ice. What we feared coming is here, but another part of the story has been revealed as well; we have new eyes. I’ve been marching for 50 years and though many who walked alongside me are gone, in the blur of faces and bodies on Saturday I could see them once again. We marched in the streets where they raised their voices, sang their songs, went forward arm in arm. The future is different when we remember the determined resistance and the demands for freedom in the past. Let this truth feed us now as we plan to join together again. We marched on their bones just as others will march on ours. The work we are doing is bigger than us in the here and now.
Day 79. Think global, act local
I'm keeping my attention on Washington, focusing on how to best support resistance to the awfulness coming from there. I can also see how easy it is to get pad thai, clean clothes, shiny shoes, double decaf lattes, perfect nails, rental cars, body work, designer pizzas and fancy cocktails. But it's also easy to not see the awfulness right in front of me, crying out for support and attention as well.
Day 81. The witness
Only one week and the worst of our fears are coming true. The predictions of Trump’s unraveling seem probable, but we don’t know how or when; the uncertainty feels unbearable. In the early days of the epidemic, when the possibility of successful treatments seemed impossible, people from the community would come to the hospital and bring offerings to patients dying of AIDS. Flowers, music, song, food, massage. A man who made stuffed animals with arms and legs that moved and glass eyes that saw you would visit and leave his creations behind. When he became a patient, his little bear sat on the bedside table and watched everything unfold, including his maker’s last breath. Afterwards, when they cleaned the room, the little bear was left behind. I brought him home. He sits here now, 30 years later, and looks at me, reminding me that the treatments finally did arrive, as did many other unexpected things, both good and bad.
Day 82. The three-foot rule
I facilitated a series of HIV-related trainings in Africa several years ago. The trainees where counselors, social workers, nurses and pharmacists. Almost all were women with children, many living with HIV; some had lost family members to AIDS. They were very open about the amount of illness and grief they had experienced. I had lunch with a woman who asked me if I knew Bill Gates; she wanted me to tell him how grateful she was for helping her access the medications that were keeping her and her children alive. I told her how inspired I was by the work that she and her colleagues were doing in their communities. She smiled and said she practiced the three-foot rule, which meant she couldn’t do much about what had already happened and what might still be coming, but she could take actions to improve the situation now. She said she was always paying attention to the three feet all around her and trying to make a difference there.
Day 84. The last day
68,508 people have already died today; by the time we go to sleep it will be over 165,000. Some died knowing about Trump and the awful things he’s doing, others worried about the loved ones they were leaving behind. Others were glad to be leaving, others didn’t know they were leaving, others kicked and screamed against having to go. I was working on the AIDS unit on November 9, 1989, when the Berlin wall came down. I went from room to room and told the patients what was happening. Some were already watching tv, others asked me to turn it on, others were just trying to make it to the next minute. I wonder how important the ways of the world are to those who are leaving right now? Today I think, when it’s mine turn to go, I’d want you to come in and tell me if the cure had been found, the discovery had been made, the wall had come down. Mostly though I’d want to hold your hand and take some deep breaths together.
All photos by Ed Wolf