WE'RE MAKING HISTORY
Twice in my life I have landed in the middle of history, first time by chance, second time by chance and by decision.
The first time I was thirteen, going home from school in Berlin, by the Russian Embassy, which was situated on Unter den Linden avenue. I was walking to the S-Bahn and was swept by the crowd surging toward the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate). The crowd was so thick, I couldn't break through them to move in the opposite direction. I had no choice but to go with them. It was November. It was chilly. It was drizzling. On the podium by the gates important people stepped up and made speeches, and gradually I understood that I'm about to witness the opening of the Berlin Wall, or more accurate, its fall. Dread filled me. I knew that if someone found out I made it to the western side of Berlin, my family would be deported back to Russia, my father would lose his job as a journalist; his career would be over. And it would be all my fault. But I couldn't move. I experimentally tried lifting my feet, and I hung, squeezed between bodies. Then the bodies rushed through the gates. I thought my ribs would break. Somehow I found myself on the other side, and everyone was chipping pieces off the wall with hammers and chisels. One man thrust a camera into my hands and posed with a hammer. I took a picture. He gave me a piece of the wall—a little stone—and I finally found a break in the surge of people and rushed home, terrified out of my mind but also excited. I witnessed history! Nothing bad happened, of course, and I don't even remember when and how I told my parents what happened, because I was guilty of sneaking into West Berlin by simply not getting off the S-Bahn train at the Friedrichstrasse station, and riding a station or two to the other side, staring out the window, then quickly making it back.
Yesterday I was in the middle of history again, only this time at forty-years-old and by choice, though still by accident as I had no idea there was a Women's March in Atlanta until I woke up that same day after sleeping for twelve hours straight, exhausted from all the traveling preparations. This time I knew what I was marching for—for my rights as a woman and as a human being, my rights that are threatened by Trump's regime, by his disparaging of women, minorities, immigrants, and anyone who doesn't fit into the mold of a white Christian male or a white obedient female. I was marching for asserting my right to my body and to my mind and to myself as a person, and I was marching to remind the president that his diversion of attention toward women of color and disabled women and immigrant women and women of low class is a clever neo-fascism tactic that lies at the heart of the while male patriarchy cult—to squash the weakest first, while those fortunate and privileged enough to stay ignorant think they're safe. They're not. The game is for the while males to do with them as they please, once they're the only ones left. That is, us white females. We are starting to be told what to do with our bodies and our minds, and it will only get worse. So it gave me immense satisfaction to shout together with thousands marching in Atlanta, "My body, my choice!" and to hear men shout in response, "Her body, her choice!" I felt thirteen again, terrified and excited, and I knew that simply running away to escape my fear is no longer going to work. So I'm going to stay and fight.