larger than myself

It was an agonizing decision, but after resolving not to fly to DC for the Women’s March on Saturday, I finally felt at peace. Many dear friends and some amazing strangers, through their kind messages and words of support, helped me come to my conclusion. The morning of the march, however, I wept. I felt trapped in this little town, one which I haven’t been able to escape from for over two years. I mourned the loss of the chance to be a part of something larger than myself. Michael held me, which always makes me feel better. A few hours later, we packed up and drove south to Portland.

We parked in the sun about a block from Congress Avenue near the end of the protest route. It was a mild day for January in Maine, in the low forties with no wind. Bundled up in hats, scarves and gloves, the three of us, plus Nellie, picked a spot on the curb and watched the parade of demonstrators descend from Munjoy Hill, a handful of happy cops with their blue lights flashing in the fore.

Calvin was in a fine mood, and I wondered if he enjoyed the noisy crowd with their bright posters and chants of solidarity. For an hour and a half, a steady stream of people of all ages and walks of life, led by a young woman in a wheelchair, passed us by. We'd learn later there had been as many as ten-thousand marchers in our small city. An animated man with long grey hair appointed himself to direct traffic at the crossing. We saw dozens of friends who came up to us with hugs. It seemed everyone who passed looked at us standing with our drooling disabled kid biting the scruff of his jacket and going a little berserk at times. One woman holding a sign that read “Liberty and Justice for All” glanced down at Calvin, then smiled and tipped her head to me. I choked up on the spot at her validation of us. Michael’s eyes watered in the cold.

Nothing but waves of love and inclusiveness radiated from the peaceful crowd, and in scores of cities across the nation and in cities on six continents, millions of people marched to show their support of women, the Disabled, immigrants, Muslims, Black and Brown people, LGBTQ people, the underpaid and underserved. Some of my favorite signs read:

my rights are not up for grabs
respect existence or expect resistance
feminism is the radical notion that women are equal to men
i’m not a sign guy, but geez
leave it to the beavers
1968 is Calling. Don’t Answer
I would not want to be the guy who pissed off all these women
We are the 51%
Make America think again

Thankfully, there were few signs that referenced the man-child who took office last Friday after having issued a bleak and egocentric inaugural speech to a relatively modest-sized crowd so white I did not recognize it as wholly American. Our marches, in contrast, were beautifully diverse as America and about hope, love, support and compassion for each other, action and solidarity.

On social media the past week I fielded some questions about the marches. The queries, verbatim, were:

What do all the protesters (and we all know violence will erupt), expect to happen from their actions? Are they expecting Trump to quit? Do they think we all don't know by now their views? Why the gatherings to spew hatred? Wouldn't getting involved with local government be a more efficient use of time? And what did they accomplish?

I assertively addressed the questions—some of which had made me cringe because of the way they were worded. I was called smug and condescending. I was labeled a hopeless liberal. I had attempted to honestly answer the queries while respectfully challenging their assumptions. I had hoped to offer the insight they professed to be searching. I was met by some with scorn, which only served to strengthen my resolve.

Under a filtered sun, as the last marchers approached, my family joined the crowd as some dear friends pushed our empty stroller. Calvin, Michael and I marched a couple of blocks for women's rights and the rights of the most vulnerable in our nation. We marched for Calvin, because the current administration has appointed secretaries who would put in jeopardy Calvin's special education services and healthcare. We marched in solidarity with the majority of Americans who voted for inclusion, justice and equality, for bridges to be built, not walls. I smiled the entire time, even as I wept. My heart brimmed with the knowledge that no one can quell this massive, resistant, powerful, common voice against oppression, and the amazing sense of becoming a part of something larger than myself.

Photo by Connie Chiang


  1. In the metro station waiting for our train to head into DC we met a group of ladies from Maine who came down with 4000 other protesters. I thought of you and saw you in their smiles and resolve. Glad you got to be a part of such a great day without the stress of traveling south. Sending peace from VA.

  2. Christy: it was a honor for our family to march with you, Calvin, Mike and Nellie in Portland. An inspiring day. We'll need to fight for many more in the weeks and years ahead.

  3. Christy, it was Washington DC that missed your gang and not vice-versa. March on!