Saturday, January 21, 2017

Why I didn't end up in DC

It's a sort of a for-want-of-a-nail type story. Except in reverse. And not really about a nail, unless that's what the thing in the above photo started as. I expected to be in Washington, DC, for the Women's March the day after Trump's inauguration. I had the time off, I had a place to stay thanks to the UU congregation in the city.

But from the beginning it was almost as if I wasn't going to end up there. I planned to leave home around nine o'clock Friday, but I didn't leave the house until nearly eleven. My GPS had timed my drive at about thirteen hours, so that would put me in DC after midnight. Then as I was crossing the Chicago Skyway Bridge, a mere couple hundred yards from the Indiana border, my tire went flat. I spent roughly an hour on the Bridge changing the tire, which threw my shoulder out something fierce. I was successful, but then I had to get a new tire. A donut simply wasn't going to last from Chicago to DC. Waiting around for another tire and for it to be changed chewed up at least another hour.

I got back on the road, but shortly after leaving Gary, I was engulfed by fog, dropping visibility to nearly a half mile. By seven o'clock, I had only made Elkhart, Indiana, perhaps a third the distance I needed to cover. So I hedged my bets, decided my best option was to travel on straight to Pennsylvania to visit my father (my intent for the vacation anyway), contacted my host, and stopped for the night at a place on the Michigan border.

I called my wife this morning and told her of my divided sensibility, this feeling of wanting to be in one place but opting to be in another. But my wife, who likes to downplay her own wisdom, pointed out that my decision to visit my father was more what was necessary than another body at the protest. The elderly, she said, were among the most vulnerable of populations, and it's the vulnerable who need the greatest love and help during what will come. Wisdom, as I say.

So today I spent driving the rest of the distance, listening to the coverage on Sirius XM's Progressive 127. It was, in some ways, both an enjoyable and humbling experience. I was envious, looking at occasion at FB friends' pictures from their own marches, some in DC and some in other cities, feeling I was missing out, having given up an opportunity to be a part of history. But I was also made hopeful in new and unexpected ways by the numbers of people who were. Listening to the radio, songs playing on the radio seemed to me like messages of kismet from deejays: "Revolution" by the Beatles, "Evolve" by Ani DiFranco, "People Have the Power" by Patti Smith, "Volunteers" by Jefferson Airplane, "Stand" by Sly and the Family Stone, "Talkin' Bout a Revolution" by both Tracy Chapman and Living Colour. I felt, if not the pangs of birth for a revolution, then the opening salvo across the bow of the Trumpocalypse.

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