Click. It was a quiet, small action—almost a non-action. A denial of some sorts, but one that was constructive. At 10:30 pm on November 7th, I turned the TV off.
Click. It was a moment where something clicked in me, where nothing would be the same.
Shh. Turn it off, cancel the subscriptions, stop listening, none of it was true or mattered anyway. The country we thought we had, the families we thought we raised, the people we thought were listening, the fights we thought were over – enough talk. It was time to step back and reassess.
Click. Then I quit being so willing, stopped saying yes so much. I stepped down from some leadership positions at work. The effect of the election was silencing, as one of my colleagues put it, “stay in your place,” was the message loud and clear. Divest, withdraw, hibernate, turn inward. I read feminist philosophy. I thought about Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf—who “thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.” In this context, I suddenly felt I understood them differently. Like I had at last met the limits and the locked doors that had kept them in too.
The Women’s March on Washington gave me my fight back. I drove 4,000 miles through six states in six days to attend. From New Mexico to Washington, D.C., the doors opened. Our country felt welcoming, the Texas panhandle’s warm winds and the blanket of fog over Virginia were there for the taking, free for all. Once in the nation’s capital, protestors swarmed like ants in the metro and in no particular route through capitol hill. I never saw any leaders, didn’t go to the stage of speakers.
There is a healing that happens at protests, where people who share essential beliefs come together in person and take action. Especially for the silenced, the locked in. As I looked around the crowd of heads and hats populating the streets of DC, I saw Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mushrooms”:
Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!
There are so many of us. So many of us raising our families in poverty; so many of us working long days for less pay; so many of us insulted, grabbed and abused; so many of us tired and ready for a revolution, a revolution of mushrooms. Our “soft fists insist/on heaving the needles/the leafy bedding” looking for the morning—the light.
Click. I listened to radio news the whole drive home from D.C. Since the march, we’ve organized protests across the country, we’ve donated more money to the ACLU than ever, we’ve inundated congress with postcards and calls. Town Hall meetings are packed and raucous. Dave Brat, a republican representative complained “women are in my grill everywhere I go.”
I learned at the Women’s March that in a revolution of mushrooms, we just quietly do. No need for leaders, or meetings, or egos, just see an opportunity, do what is right in the moment, and others will follow. Our foot’s in the door.
March 8th is International Woman’s Day. For me, it will be a day to stay at home in a quiet room of my own and remember Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf again. I will remember how that day in D.C. felt unseasonably warm when we were all together. And I will imagine mushrooms quietly, discretely multiplying and inheriting the forest floor that stretches from one end of this country to the other. Shh.
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