Yesterday I did something I have never done before. I stood and walked in the pouring rain for five hours while chatting with strangers, playing with babies, singing songs, catching up with old friends, taking selfies, dancing in the streets, and oh yeah, joined a demonstration that spanned the entire globe. It was a busy day.
The Women's March on Washington- Portland Edition, is the first large political event in which I have participated. I am not a fan of large crowds and I don't often lay my personal beliefs out in the open. In the past I have been very aware of how others might judge me or disapprove of me and that caused a lot of anxiety—enough to keep me from expressing myself freely.
When I saw that Portland was organizing a sister march to the one in D.C., I immediately wanted to be a part of it. I didn't know quite what to expect, but I wanted to give my two teenage daughters the opportunity to be a part of something big, something they felt was right. Unfortunately, my oldest daughter woke up sick and couldn't attend, but I think my youngest appreciated the experience.
Why did I specifically want to join the march? I want to be a person who stands up for herself. I wanted to show my support to everyone who hesitates taking their child to the doctor when they're sick because they don't know if they can afford to pay. I wanted to stand with people who are different from myself but deserve to be treated equally. I wanted millions of people to know that organizations like Planned Parenthood provide a valuable service by providing community healthcare at an affordable cost.
I'm not going to lie. I am not the demonstration type. The day before the march I was already planning how I could skip the marching portion of the day and go over to the Wiz Bang Bar and get soft serve ice cream. I am still a little sad I didn't get to go. Along the route I also saw several stores and restaurants that I have been meaning to visit and thought of how nice it would be to be inside and warm and shopping or eating good food instead of wet and cold.
I didn't agree with a lot of the signs and comments from other demonstrators. I felt there was some negativity and a lot of person-bashing, but I respect everyone's right to voice their fears and concerns, even if I don't agree with how they execute that right. I was more impressed with those that spoke about how to move forward, and what we could do to bring attention to important issues. My favorite signs were mostly held by children. They said things like, 'Make America Kind Again' and 'Be A Good Person'. I saw one woman with a sign that read, 'Everyone is Important'. I wanted to bring a sign, but my daughter vetoed it. I guess she would have been too embarrassed to march next a woman carrying a sign that said, 'My List Of Complaints Is Too Long For This Sign'.
I met some amazing people yesterday, and I was in awe at the feeling of unity and friendship in such a large crowd. Everyone was kind to one another, there was no violence, and I saw strangers helping strangers in unexpected ways. I saw humanity, and so did my daughter. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this with her, and to stand with so many wonderful people and say, 'I believe there is good in this world, and I want to be a part of it.'
*I asked permission from parents before photographing and posting pictures of their children.