This is why I’m marching on Saturday

Another school shooting.

I see the headline for a moment, then set my phone on the counter and wash the dishes in the sink. I fold a load of laundry and vacuum the carpet. I drink another cup of coffee. I don’t want to read the details.

I read the details.

I read the news report from the safety of my living room while my kids are at school taking math tests, playing on the playground and writing about wombats.

They are so far away from me.

I hope they don’t feel alone today.

I hope they eat the vegetables in their lunch.

I hope they remember to be kind.

I hope they are safe.

Each school shooting drives a nail deeper into my chest. The fear and trauma these kids, parents, and teachers endure are incomprehensible.

Enough is enough.

My son, who is 13, and his fellow classmates participated in the walkout last week. We had talked about the shooting at Parkland High School, me doing my best to protect him from the details, but I didn’t think he gave it much thought.

He did.

He knows what the lockdown drills at his school are about.

He feels the fear and the uneasiness.

He believes those 17 minutes he sat in silence mattered.

He believes change can happen.

He has hope.

He is why I will participate in the March For Our Lives at the State Capitol on Saturday. I march because he, and his fellow students across the country, believe their voices matter and change can happen.

And I believe in them.

I’ve been surprised by the number of people insulting and putting down the Parkland kids, the sheer volume of charts and graphs about how more kids die from car accidents than gunshot wounds, the rationalizing of school shootings as a result of parents not spanking kids and the countless other ways people wanting to hold onto their guns try and spin it.

This isn’t about you and your guns.

It’s about them and their right to feel safe.

This is their moment.

I will march because it’s one action I can take against the insanity.

I will march because the Parkland kids have taken their anger and grief and channeled it into activism and power.

I will march because I believe in these kids and the world they want to create.

I will march.

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*In case you missed it, please watch Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt singing a charity song they wrote called “Found/Tonight” to raise money for the March For Our Lives movement. Each download helps raise funds and awareness.

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Falling snow, bubbly car washes and joy

I am one of only three sophomores on the biology trip to Yosemite. The remaining are seniors and they are not shy about their dislike of me being on the trip.

It hurts, but I don’t care. I am too excited.

We track wolves, sleep in a log cabin, snowshoe and slide on our bellies through a pitch black cave formation called “the birth canal.” These experiences are unlike anything I’ve done before and I feel a joy so big it vibrates my entire body.

“It’s so beautiful, like I’ve fallen into a storybook,” I cry out.

I throw back my head, close my eyes and breathe in the cold piney air.

“You are such a child,” I hear one of the girls say.

A picture from my trip to Yosemite in 1993.

A picture from my trip to Yosemite in 1993.

We venture across a beautiful white meadow on our cross-country skis and it begins to snow hard. The guide decides we need to stop and wait out the storm. We pack down a circle of snow, stick our skis deep into the bank behind us and drape a tarp over the entire group. The snow is coming in sideways and blowing into our sandwiches and trail mix.

Some start complaining about the soggy bread and a few mumble about how tired they are. I am beaming. I’ve never seen it snow like this. The feeling becomes so big and suddenly I am crying, hot tears streaming down my frozen cheeks.

“Seriously,” one of the girls says and rolls her eyes at me.

On the last night, we are given a chance to eat dinner at the famous Ahwahnee Hotel. We dress in the big, shared bathroom. I feel like a princess as we walk to the hotel, my shiny black pumps slipping in the ice and snow.

We walk into the lobby and it’s all wood, chandeliers, comfy chairs and an enormous stone fireplace. I start to laugh as my heels click on the hard floor, the sound echoing all around us.

The restaurant has the biggest windows I’ve ever seen, wood beams crisscrossing over a green ceiling, candles in brackets along the wall, triangular-shaped chandeliers and stones that make me feel like I’ve been transported to a medieval castle.

We sit at a table in the middle of the restaurant and prepare to order.

“What did Queen Elizabeth order when she came here?” I ask the waitress.

She tells me and I order everything the same as her, wiggling in my chair with the pure pleasure of it all. Everything tastes divine and I can’t stop smiling. The rest of the students act as if they eat artisan cheese platters and prime rib every night. They laugh at me, but I am incapable of holding back.

On the return walk to the cabins, my biology teacher takes me aside. I love this man, admire him greatly, and I expect him to tell me more history or something interesting about the cabins.

Instead, he takes both my hands into his and gives me a very stern look.

“You really are naïve,” he says. “Tone it down a notch. OK?”

I nod and feel my cheeks burning hot. I lower my head and dart into my cabin. I cry myself to sleep, suddenly aware at how ridiculous everyone sees me.

What I view as excitement, they see as naïve.

What I see as being myself, they see as wrong.

It has been over 20 years since I heard those words, yet they still bring tears to my eyes.

It was the moment I started to realize what being an adult meant.

It was the moment I started to hear and care what others thought of me.

A few days ago, I went through a car wash with my friend and his 12-year-old son. I have not been through one in years and I could not believe how fun it was.

I point at the vibrant blue and pink bubbles being shot along the side of the truck.

“Did you see that?” I say.

The huge foam rollers smack against us, rocking us back and forth, and I giggle. I know it is just a car wash and my internal voice is yelling at me to “simmer down now,” but it sounds like a huge storm and I close my eyes and laugh.

“No offense,” the boy says. “But you sound like my sister.”

His sister is 6 and it makes me giggle more.

“None taken,” I answer back truthfully.

It felt good to let my joy out, to let the rush of excitement fill me up.

It felt almost like Disneyland.

I am tired of holding back the awe and wonder I feel every day.

I’m tired of drinking to squash my feelings down.

I’m tired of thinking there is something wrong with me.

There is not.

I’m going to take my kids through a car wash today.