The second annual women’s March in Asheville was Saturday, Jan.20 – a week ago. I didn’t attend last year but was determined to go this time. Michael had the flu for ten days so he couldn’t go with me. I don’t do well in large crowds due to brain injury limitations so I called a woman who lives close to me and we planned on taking the bus together. I’m comfortable riding the bus since I’ve taken it often but I wasn’t comfortable finding this rally.
Taking the bus puts me in contact with folks I don’t usually meet during my day. There’s a real push in Asheville to get folks to ride the bus even if they own a car but it is still used mostly by folks who don’t have alternative transportation. I’d love to take it to Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church but with the transfer it takes 1 1/2 hours which isn’t workable. Many folks have no choice but I can usually find – not always – but usually, a ride.
I was supposed to meet my friend at the stop on Haywood road right by my house. I told her it usually runs late but when I arrived, she wasn’t there. As luck would have it, it was closer to being on time so my friend missed it. I boarded with my sign figuring I could just follow the crowd to the rally.
After arriving at the bus station, I met another woman walking alone and began talking to her as we walked to the rally. I told her about my TBI and some of its challenges and since she wasn’t going with anyone, we went together. Where we stood, it was impossible to hear the speakers so I weaved my way through the crowd until I got to a place where I could hear them. She didn’t follow so I lost her. I do hope I meet her again.
I didn’t know all the speakers but loved the energy there. I know it was a women’s march but the first one was held the day after Trump’s installation last year and so this march has morphed into a march against Trump and his administration. Perhaps when we get another administration, it can be a true women’s march.
I saw a woman in the crowd sitting on the ground next to a child in a wheel chair. Everyone around her was standing and I was aware I was going to have to sit down as well so I plopped myself right down behind her. While seated, I could close my eyes and block out all visual stimulation, which always helps. I also can’t stand long for a rally. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t seen her sitting down, I would have weaved my way out of the crowd to find a place to “rest my brain.”
After the program, the march began. I discovered later that four high school girls had planned it. I don’t think any adults stepped up to help them. The march received some criticism because we had to march on two small sidewalks instead of in the street because a permit wasn’t secured. In spite of some of the difficulties, they did an amazing job.
After the march I was exhausted and needed to “rest my brain” before taking the bus home. I decided to go into First Presbyterian Church since I was familiar with it and knew I could get in. After lying down on a bench in a hallway for a while, I decided my brain had rested enough so I filled my water bottle and went downstairs looking for food. I felt a little faint so the Saturday Sanctuary volunteers gave me broth from the bottom of the soup pot and a few crackers.
The second shift of Saturday sanctuary volunteers began at 2 PM and the woman I was supposed to meet for the march, was working. She had gone to the march but drove her car after missing the bus. There is no way I could have worked Saturday Sanctuary after marching for the stimulation overwhelmed me. I’m finally getting over not being able to do as much as others. A former cognitive therapist reminded me that my plate is now smaller than other people’s and they can put more on it then I can. God doesn’t care how much people can do but rather God cares that one loves others and works for justice in this world.
My friend Scott Owen works on a radio show and he asked if he could interview me about my experience. I said yes and he told me what he was going to ask. It was fun. Here is a tape of the interview. The whole thing is interesting but my part begins at 2:59.