The Girl Against the Wall


In Sixth Grade I refused to wear boots to school in the snow.  Reason:  I wasn’t interested in spending an hour on the cold snow covered playground at Fairmount School.  Our teacher, Mr. Venner, had all the boys scrimmaging football out there every day.  Since I wouldn’t wear my boots, I was “punished” by spending my recess time leaning against the rust colored brick wall of the school, alone.  My resistance made me happy.

This morning I awoke to the nightmare news that a cartoonish, racist, homophobic, misogynistic rapist had been elected President of the United States.  My first thought was to move.  Run.  I am, afterall, a gypsy at heart.  I’ve had no real physical home for two and a half years.  That’s the lifestyle I have chosen.  I have been lucky and privileged to have financial savings and devoted friends and family who have offered me shelter.

While the notion of moving to Western Canada or to Paris or London dominated my thoughts and seemed appealing, I thought of friends who do not have the same luxury I have, the ability to move.  I have friends who are afraid today for good reason… because they are gay or Muslim or black or ,,,,,or…..or….. And I know in my bones I can’t run.  I know in my bones I have to use my voice now more than ever.

I used to be the silenced one.  My memoir tells my story of childhood sexual abuse and adult domestic violence.  It tells the story of perseverance and strength.  I see now that regardless of how long it takes to publish my book, there will ALWAYS be a teenage girl or a woman in her 30s or 50s who will need to hear my message, the message of so many of us who have survived misogynistic violence.  We are not alone. You are not alone. You can survive too.  One story can offer hope, can reveal a path forward.  And we have so many stories.

Growing up in the Vietnam era, I remember hearing: America, love it or leave it.  But I have never believed that statement.  I have always chosen: America: Love it, or change it.  I awoke today in a country where the majority of its citizens are now in serious danger. After a few hours of lethargy, after reading inspiring facebook posts by Jesse Chandler, Chalet Seidel, Anna March, Pam Houston, Beverly Army Williams, Lidia Yuknovitch, and Kelly Sundberg, I am ready…I am re-charged to stay awake and focused and active.

At the moment, I don’t feel the inner satisfaction and power and joy of my twelve year old self, that girl against the wall, but I will. I have three amazing nieces who deserve a better world than this.  For them and for the countless millions in our country who woke up today in fear of their future, I will resist.  I will do what I can to counter-act any U-turns the next phase of government plans to undertake against the most vulnerable among us. Doing so, resisting policies of racism and sexism and homophobia, will bring me purpose and joy.  Let’s do this together.  Together we are strong.


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