I follow a young woman on Twitter named Ashley Ford. As is the way with Twitter, I don't know Ashley, and I found out about her from another woman I don't know, Roxane Gay. Roxane shared that Ashley's grandmother had died and there was a fundraising page to cover funeral expenses, because in today's shaky economic reality nothing--not even one's funeral service--is a given. My mom had died about a year earlier and the grief of that was still a barely scabbed wound, so I felt very strongly that Ashley should be able to honor her grandmother and mourn her loss without further worry. I contributed to the fund and continued to follow Ashley because she is a writer and a young person--two of my most favorite qualities in others--and because I had become protective of her. I had a head start on my grief and knew from unfortunate familiarity with the process that I would survive the loss of my mother. I hoped Ashley would do the same.
A few weeks ago, Ashley tweeted that she missed reading personal blogs, the ones where you get to know someone through the details of their daily life. I think we seek our own place in the world through our connection to others, and social media is a pathway toward self-knowledge for many of us. We are reflected in the algorithms of Twitter, Facebook and Amazon, as they recommend who we should follow, friend or read. Sometimes those assumptions create a virtual echo chamber, and our personal growth gets smothered under a comfy blanket of similarity. But most often, the mathematical winnowing clarifies who we are and distills what we believe, and we are left with the digital representation of our soul.
Last week, I stood in a crowd of nearly 500,000 women in Washington D.C., brought together by technology for a variety of reasons. The speakers were as diverse as the platform, but the unifying force was womanhood. I have never doubted my female power, especially after I became a mother. Raising my boys has required stamina, sacrifice, patience, and unwavering focus. At the Women's March, my individual strength was reflected and amplified by a sea of pussy-hatted compatriots, the streets a literal echo chamber as our cheers rolled down the avenues toward the White House. Surrounded by so many righteous voices, I had never felt more confident and capable. I emerged from the day affirmed in my beliefs, committed to fight for our future, and at peace with my choices.
This blog was my way of examining and navigating my life and it helped me make sense of tumultuous times. Sharing my experiences with you--ridiculous, infuriating or heartbreaking--has been the greatest gift. Life was challenging for a while and I didn't have any energy to spare, so the Diaries went dormant. I'm reviving them now because I truly believe in our shared humanity--that instinct to help Ashley--and I know we're stronger together.
The pussies proved it.