Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Out of character

Comments on the Inauguration

I feel small. I’m bigger than I look, I think. No one would guess that I’m nearly 5’8” because I slouch and curl my knees into my chest or sit on my feet. When I eat, I sit close to the table. I feel older than I am, and I am younger than I look. I’m permanently partnered, and I own my own home. Well, the bank owns it, but they’re very nice about letting me live there and do what I wish with it. We’ve been starting and stopping and restarting and pausing the child attainment process for almost three years. I thought I would have children by now. Not one, but more than one.

I never thought I would dress this way. In high school, I wore carpenter’s pants or fatigues, vintage band t-shirts, and a hoodie. At some point, I realized that my face and body don’t lend themselves to that style. At some point, I stopped dying my hair Cheeto orange and wearing it in pigtails. At some point, I entered a career path and started concerning myself with professionalism. I have always been self-conscious about the way I dress, cared what people around me thought. Every day, I become a little more J. Crew, a little better accessorized, and a little more Midwestern.

I keep house. I do laundry and knit. I’m teaching myself to sew. There are living room curtains to be made, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay a hundred dollars for something I could theoretically do myself. Some projects go more slowly than others, but some projects are just really big. However, painting an eight-by-ten dining room should not take more than a month—but it does, and I own shame for that.

That’s why it was a big thing for me to take off work and drive out to Washington, DC, with someone I’ve never met. I met up with other friends, people whose lives I envy. People with kids or firm plans for kids. People on track with their lives, too responsible to take a vacation day and shout at the Hill. Three years ago, I would have done this in a heartbeat. Five years ago, I would only have asked who else was going.

Thursday, January 20, 2005, I dressed warmly and responsibly and went to Malcolm X Park. I left with the front of the march, just feet from the leaders. I yelled. I stomped. I chatted with other marchers about policies and about my sweatshirt. One fellow marcher told me she heard some great jazz in Denton, Texas, the town where one of my shirt “signers” lives. I told people that NCLB is No Child Left Behind, and that the signer who wrote about it is a special education teacher at a public middle school. They nodded. They got it. They have compassion for the anger he must hold for Bush.

Everyone who was there has that compassion. Everyone in that long, long line of protesters understands why everyone else is there. We know the reasons that other people go to these things. We care about them. We know they care about us.

Although several people took photos of my shirt, none of them have appeared online to my knowledge. Below are links to photos of people and things I actually saw that day. These are from Yahoo. My own photos are a few weeks out.

This guy looks really familiar.
This was a heartwarming moment.
The man in the foreground walked near me during a great deal of the march.


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