Feel Less Passive


Image via Mobilus In Mobili

From N+1:

I am standing beside a small male cop. It’s four days before the Kavanaugh vote, and we still have a kind of hope or momentum from the encounter with Flake, the one that went viral. I look into the small cop’s eyes and say, “You like that we’re here. Admit it.” I am part of a pack of bird-dogs, putting politicians on the spot. We wear purple stickers that say BELIEVE SURVIVORS, so you know who we are, except you would know anyway from the fact we are standing around instead of rushing along blindly. You would know from our hectic hair and fired-up faces. The cop bursts into a smile and says he misses New Hampshire, where he’s from. He’s working extra shifts because we are swarming the Senate office buildings. To our left is a tramway only Senate employees can use. Suits and uniforms disappear past the automated doors or shoot out from them on their way somewhere or nowhere. We are waiting for a senator to emerge from an elevator, flanked by guards and an entourage of hangers-on. We are waiting to rain down words on this person and pierce the insulating bubble that allows him or her to sleep at night. It’s exciting to disrupt. It’s tedious waiting for a mark to swim by. I take a selfie with the cop. I would show it to you, but the skin on my cleavage looks crepey.

Wednesday night I head back to New York by train. I am writing this Saturday. Kavanaugh has been confirmed. I feel less something, having gone. What’s the word? Passive? Done to? A little while ago I told a friend I thought we should bird-dog until this government is unseated. Two thousand of us there every day, taking turns, everyone in the country taking a shift, subsidized for those who need it. She said, “What good will it do?” I said, “They don’t expect us to be there. They are used to privacy, and there we were.” I thought about those giant white buildings, humming with power like an engine turning over. You have to put your belongings on a scanner to get in, but you can get in. All the people in those buildings moving along, their faces aloof, trying to ignore us, unable to ignore us. All those people believing the buildings are theirs as they look down, making deals about our lives, and there we were, rushing the walls of the panopticon, moment after moment, in tunnels and elevators and hallways. We reversed the gaze, and it felt like the opposite of despair.

“Postcards from DC”, Laurie Stone, N+1