Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hands Around Green Lake

"Why are we going to the protest again, Mom?"

"I think it would be nice to do it together as a family. It's been a hard couple of weeks."

"Will it make Trump not be our president?"

Asher was right. I didn't really know why we were all trudging down to the lake this afternoon in the pre-winter rain (well, I knew why the boys were going -- we had promised them a treat afterwards). It did seem a little hippy-drippy and pointless. I just knew that I needed to begin to face the next four to eight years head-on instead of letting the "what ifs..." hold my brain permanently hostage.

Turns out, there were a lot of good reasons to go.

We circled all three miles of the lake and held hands in silence for a few moments. And then we chatted with our neighbors, shared cookies and hot cider, gathered donations for a local homeless shelter.

At any point along the lake, you could see people aligned together. There were no gaps. A human friendship bracelet of sorts. These were our neighbors. We stood together, at least for the afternoon.

It felt good to be surrounded by people who felt the same way as we did, who shared our values, our hopes, and our worries. I think it was the first time since the election that I felt hopeful and relaxed instead of vulnerable and worried.

Afterwards, we stood in a long line at our neighborhood bakery to make good on our promise of a post-protest treat. I put my arms around NoƩ so he wouldn't get antsy and start touching the strangers around us, and I let my mind wander. Asher and Ed joked and talked in the way that only the two of them understand.

On our way out of the shop, baked goods in hand, an older lady cornered me. There were tears running down her cheeks. Her voice was calm, barely above a whisper.

The way you and your husband show affection to your boys is so beautiful to watch. You have a beautiful family. 

Surprised, I thanked her for the kind words and walked out of the shop.

Perhaps she was caught up in the emotion of the afternoon. Perhaps she noticed our collection of skin shades and our autistic teen and felt compelled to say something nice.

Regardless, the validation felt really good. And I felt renewed gratefulness for this little corner of the city in the corner of the country that I call home.