There were peace marches nationwide today. One of them was in Portland, and for the first time in my life I made up my mind to march--to do something progressive, instead of just writing about it.
So what do I do? I fall down.
"A thousand people in the street," and I'm the one whose foot finds the big divot next to the manhole cover in the middle of 4th Avenue at Main--you know the one: the one that makes you fall down and sprain your damn ankle.
It was pouring rain this morning and I told myself that I didn't have to go to the march, even though I said I was gonna. Nobody else from my group was going. It was therefore okay for me to settle in for a cozy afternoon of Battlestar Galactica.
But my conscience would not lie down. At the last possible minute I grabbed my raincoat and camera and headed out the door.
I stopped at my sister's house to see if anyone wanted to come along. They dropped everything, bundled up against the rain, and dashed with me to the bus.
By the time we caught up to it, the demonstration had built some steam. People were converging on it from several different directions. "It's huge! Look!" one fellow marcher shouted to her friends as we all rounded the corner. There was drumming and chanting and flashing police car lights.
We mingled into the trailing end of the parade. A leader--unseen two blocks ahead--chanted "Bring. Them. Home" into a bullhorn, along with the classic, "What do we want? Peace! When do want it? Now!"
The police walked or cycled alongside the crowd, more of an escort than a control. The atmosphere was cordial. I got my camera out.
And then, wham. My ass and my camera both hit the street.
It's one of those falls where you just know the answer to "Are you okay" is "No" and that your day is ruined. Left ankle, right knee, right wrist, all the worse for it. Jeans: soaked. Dignity: shot.
Several marchers offer hands to help me up. My niece rescues the camera (which has fared better than the ankle), and three different cops offer to drive me home.
I can't imagine arriving home in a cop car. And as it happens, I've taken my street-dive just a few yards from a handy bus stop. So I assure the nice officers that I'll be fine. My sister and nieces give up their chance to march for peace so they can ride Tri-Met home with me.
And thus ends my first experience of taking it to the streets.
Total time at the march? Oh, maybe three minutes. I guess this is my way of easing gradually into my new political life: a little activism, followed by a lot of...inactivism.
I'm firing up the Battlestar Galactica now.