We were at our Girl Scout troop leader Heather’s house by 8 a.m. We all loaded up in vans and drove to the Rosewood Church in East Austin, where we met up with even more Girl Scout Troops and rode buses down to the Capitol to march in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. Sadly, the bus driver told us Lucky could not ride on the bus, so there were tears from Lily, and Lucky the dog was left behind to wait for us, sleeping in my van, windows down, over cast day….we don’t believe in leaving ANY living creature in a car, so there was a lot of trepidation, but I reassured Lily our little doggy would be fine, and she was upon our return. And while waiting for us, she only peed a tiny bit, on her leash, at that! Good aim, Lucky!
The march was incredible. I’m not sure how many thousands of Austinites turned out, but my guess would be 10-12, 000. The McCallum High School Drum Corp kicked things into high gear, lots of showmanship (and womanship!) on snares, kick and timbales…oh, yes, and high fallutin’ cymbal crashin’ with dance steps and hand moves intertwined. Then the Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church sang to the heavens; I was singing along, full throttle, right into the ear of a teenage boy. I was trying to sing off his shoulder, but there we all were, jam packed in together at the capitol steps. He didn’t seem to mind. Frankly, I was shocked we all weren’t singing, or at least boppin’ and movin’ and clapping hands. It was such joy filled music!
AN ASIDE: Is it my imagination, or are people so downtrodden they are losing their ability to swing? Come on, people, now, shine on your brother! Everybody get together, try to love one another…RIGHT NOW! And that means getting giddy with it, shaking along, hollerin’ response and feeling the beat. I love when I’m in traffic and I look over and I can see someone is just wailin’ along with their favorite music! Oblivious to what anyone might think of them….I always wonder what song they are responding to? Something by Sly? Marvin? Insane Clown Posse? Billy Jonas? Celine? Garth? Cher? Carrot Top? Fishbone? Grateful? Billy Ray? Dar? Joni? Rockapella?
Brothers Figaro? Eels? Joan (Jett? Baez? ie and Chachi?) Parliament? James (Brown? Taylor?) Carly? Zeppelin? Polkacide?
Raffi? Django? Hamilton’s Pool? Decemberists? Cake? Randy (Erwin? Newman? that country dude that lives in Hawaii and is married to his manager…oh, yea, Travis?) Crowded House? Sheryl? Rusty Bucket? (made that one up) Local band? Their own music?
After a few speakers (you know, the mayor, local officials, and we missed Marion Wright Edelman cuz the girls needed to go to the bathroom and we had to wade through the 10-12,000 people to get to the side of the capitol and ride the elevator and ooh and aah from the second floor balcony and stop at the star in the middle of the entire building and look up and sing a few notes), the march began!
All of us facing south, we headed down the vast front sidewalk, out the iron gates, me and one other woman singing “We Shall Overcome”, and let me say: if you, yourself, are ever caught up in the middle of 10-12,000 people and start to sing “We Shall Overcome”, you will remember this blog entry because it felt like two tiny raindrops in the middle of a vast sea. But we sang!
We sang about six verses before it petered out. I love that song! Just love it. And I love that we were singing among all the bodies, laughing, talking, walking, raising banners and children and hopes and memories of all Dr. King had aspired to create, through his words, his actions, the gift of his life.
There were folks on the sidelines handing out gold coins full of chocolate, and water bottles, and one of the banks was giving out lip balm with their name printed on the side….there were corner stores with outside tables selling B-B-Q and soda pops….the scent of B-B-Q and fresh bread was wafting every which way, making me think about food, so I tried to concentrate on the greater goal: JUSTICE FOR ALL. EQUALITY FOR ALL. LOVE FOR ALL.
One group had a giant banner that read:
U.S. Department of Non-Violence and Peace
And I turned to one of the moms and said, “Wow! Did you know we have a department of Non-Violence and Peace?!” and just as the words were leaving my lips, I noticed the banner also said:
HELP CREATE A
And my heart sank. But then it rose again, cuz I liked that someone had gone to the trouble to make this big proclamation, and so now I’m passing on the good word to you, my friends:
HELP CREATE A U.S. DEPARTMENT OF NON-VIOLENCE AND PEACE
We reached the church, and the kids were starving. We played African -American Historical Figures Bingo. We ate pizza. Girls mingled.
Brownies and cupcakes and Lucky, the dog, vaccuuming up all the crums.
It was about 2:30 pm when we got home. Whoo. I was wiped! I only had to carry one child on my shoulders during the march, but we had another older girl get sick, so I was helping to carry her while my daughter rode on the shoulders of our troop leader (she promised me she was very strong and did not mind carrying io! God bless her!)
THINGS I LEARNED YESTERDAY:
That there are more people who care than don’t care (well, I was reminded of this cuz I already really knew it). That black, white, brown, yellow…all of us already do get along. Why do we forget this?
That our troop of white and brown girls and the troop of black girls….we should meet more than once a year on a day of rememberance.
We should meet all the time. We should build friendships across the city and become sisters now. This is the message Dr. King wanted us to hear. Now is the time, not once a year. How can communities share cultures, history, religious thought, joys and sorrows if we are still divided? I’ve asked our troop leader and the other troop leader: how do we make this happen? How do we become sister troops?
And how can my church (First United Methodist) invite other congregations of different idealogies to come visit? How come we don’t go visit other churches? Why aren’t we all, truly, mixed up and tussled up into one big joyful noise? Isn’t this how division occurs? Isn’t this how conflict leads to war? When people don’t spend time getting to know one another and understanding one another’s differences, similarities?
March on, I say!
Went to church. My parents are in town. They go to church regularly with us when they are visiting, so they are recognized and adored and that is so cool. Went to Sunday School. Great discussion on social justice and how we play a role (as individuals, as a church community). Went to lunch with a group from class.
Went to Mother/Daughter book club. Snacks galore, fancy snacks, at that! The book we had read was “Lily’s Ghosts”, so there were lots of ghost related craft activities and ghost related snacks. Then we read questions from a hat. All the moms and daughters wrote a question related to the book, and each girl drew a question and then we had group discussion. Ok, I have done a ton of cool things in my life, but this ranks right up there in the top ten! The mom who was hosting wanted to share some wine with us, but she couldn’t find her corkscrew. Which was ok by me, cuz I was loving the iced tea and conversation. Wine would just make me giggly, and then I would have fallen asleep on the couch. This I why I hardly ever drink. (Unless it is with George at a Bonnie show.)
Next: Lily and I get home, and grab roller skates and Dad and io, and off we go to Playland Skate Center for school skate night.
Disco balls! Light show! Loud music! Whirling, dashing, zoom! Hot dogs! The claw (that claw is horrid, but maybe only because the girl in front of me nabbed SEVEN TOYS so there wasn’t any good treasure to trove)! Injuries! Shock! Everyone’s ok! Thirsty! More Zoom!
Chatting with other parents! Watching over a baby boy as he sleeps on the sidelines so the other parents can have some big people time (if you are a parent, you know what I mean)! Change for the video games! Driving Race Cars! Driving Fast Boats! Slam! Bam!
The girls run the engine and I drive and I am constantly saying, “Slloooooooow down! No, ok, yes, faster! Speed ‘er up! No! Look out! Ahhhh!” Time is up! We are all tired…head home. Snacks, pajamas, brush teeth. Storytime. Bedtime.
Lastly: I’m out the door, glasses on, roller skating/book reading tee shirt and jeans. Nothing fancy. Off to sing at a benefit concert for a friend who needs eye surgery.
There is no place to park downtown because the UT celebration has ended and everyone is filling up the bars. Well, ok, not everyone. 22 year old boys and girls. Ok, I take that back, too. The guys look like high school graduates and a lot of the girls look like they are normally dancing at Ugly Coyote on top of the bar. My goodness! Anyway, I find a place to park next to a motorcycle and a young lady dressed in not much, kinda like a cheerleader with a even tan, and I can’t quite see how much room I have to back up before I flatten the cycle, so all these dudes lean out the bar windows and start guiding me in with hand signals and hoots. At first, my reaction is that they WANT me to run over the motorcycle. Now, why would I think that? That is terrible! So, I let go and trust that they are doing a nice thing, and they are, and all the crowds on the street get involved…I’m driving forward, I’m turning my wheel as far as I can and backing up in tiny increments: they are waving me on! C’mon, c’mon…six more inches, they shout! I finally get the van situated and exit the vehicle to a burst of applause. I feel so happy! People are so good. Look at that. I’m tucked in neatly between and SUV and a silver BMW bike. Nice! Thank you! Thank you! I smile.
Flamingo Cantina is packed. Bands are on stage playing country swing. Oh, no, I think, I can’t play. Me and my guitar after THIS?
Oy. I will bring the whole room to a standstill. Everyone will leave. People are DANCING! I feel panicky. I see tons of friends/musicians I know. They are all like, no sweat, no problem, ask some of the cats to jump up and play with you and I’m like oh no it’s not that easy
And this is the part where I feel like such a misfit….My songs don’t have 1-4-5 progressions, nor do they generally follow a standard pattern….and I’m thinking me alone is just not gonna cut it.
Now, after thirty years, why do I still freak myself out? Why didn’t I just get up there and smile real big and keep my focus on Steve, my friend, and just have a good time? Because I’m still that 8 year old girl, getting up in front of the school, thinking my song about
the eagle is just about as goofy as you can get. There it is.
But I get up on the stage…other musicians stay to lend a hand. I am twisting my body around so they can watch my hands change
on the neck, the pulse. I am singing into a mic as a contorted UT hippie secretary, my black glasses, my orange tie dyed shirt.
I play the easiest songs I know. The guys are doing their best to follow, and these are musicians of the highest caliber. Oh, my songs are weird! Oh, I am so mean to me. I ask the Hudsons up to sing on the angels/Chuck song….I remind those at this big party of celebration that it is great we are gathered here to help our dear one and his health needs…but what about all those who have no insurance and no friends to throw them concerts to raise money? What about all those people? I beg people to keep voting, to keep speaking out, that we are each others’ angels. We must continue the good fight. We sing. I get off the stage. I feel like I let everyone down with my low self-esteem. I am trying so hard to remember who I am. Who am I? I feel more confident in everyday life than I ever have, but the stage seems big to me now. Thank you for your patience…all my friends who hear me worry. Thank you to anyone who reads this blog and gets that I am a girl with a guitar with a dream with two kids who is returning to something that is a dream on it’s way to becoming what it will be. Thanks to all the people at my shows who cheer me on and say “Welcome back!” or “You’re doing great!”
Thanks for loving me through stage fright and stage fun and stage bloopers and stage moments of connectedness, for all of us.
Gosh, I love what I do. I won’t always be scared.
My friend, Mary, walks me outside, and I head back to my mommy van, and I chuck my new guitar in the back (thank you, again, Takamine) and I shut the door and hop into the front seat. I sit for a moment. All the lights of nighttime twinkling, people walking past with funny hair, kids shaking their body to loud music, people making out, a drunk man slumped against the side of a wall….there is a sky up there, I can’t see it. But I know it is above us, and we are all just moving and living, searching and dying and giving birth, making love and making music….watching one another and wondering how to be this or that, celebrating, writing, learning, traveling, staying at home behind closed curtains…lonely, adventurous, humorous, curious, needing, believing, angry, touching, smouldering, liking and hating.
What a curious thing, to be alive. To make choices. To learn more, to be given so much opportunity. To reach and stretch and want and grow into that which we must become—ourselves. And there is no one who can teach us better than the voice within. I hear you, I really do. I am listening. I am trying. I get closer every minute. I long to know myself completely, and I must release control and have faith
that I do the best I can, and that will lead me to the me I know I can be.
By the way, the cedar count in Austin is ridiculous. My eyes are shut tight from all the rubbing and itchyness. My node is tuffed up, too.
Dere you hab it. I will led you dnow when da cedar goed away.