Two of the major things that drive my memory are moments of camaraderie and moments of regret. I remember a concert in Boston; it was a small venue and packed, hard to breath packed. The show was great and the crowd was really into it, but in the middle of it all this severely overweight girl began to pass out. I remember her turning as she fell and reaching out towards me, I grabbed her hand, other people started supporting her from behind and we all walked her out of the swelling pit together. I also remember a time in high school sitting in my living room with Shuske, a Japanese exchange student who was staying with my family for the year. He was in tears as the result of a cultural misunderstanding and was confiding in me… but I offered him no words of support, I felt that I couldn’t help him understand. I can’t forget that moment and to this day I regret it.
On Thursday, November 17th, I was in poor shape. My back was hurting more than ever, I was tired, and I was in no mood for anything exciting. I was going through my morning routine on my computer; checking tumblr, flickr, gmail, and of course facebook. A friend of mine (a real friend, not a facebook friend) had posted a link to The Other 99’s Ustream channel, it was a live feed of the events of the day, a huge day for the Occupy movement. When I started watching I was joining 17,000 other viewers, and as the day went on I watched ticker pass 20,000, then 25,000 I was captivated. I felt like I was there in the thick of it. Then I thought “why aren’t I? It’s a freakin’ subway ride away!” In all this time, two whole months, I had never bothered to see this movement for myself, to be a part of something that I knew I would regret missing… so I went.
My plan was to meet the protesters at Union Square and march downtown to Foley Square. From watching the coverage I knew all I had to do once I arrived was follow the police helicopters and I would find the protesters. I spotted banners passing from about a block away, I zigzagged down one street and up another to try and cut them off. As I approached an intersection on 5th Ave the protesters came around the bend swarming towards me. I remember someone taking my arm and pulling me into the crowd, the excitement was overwhelming, and even though I was at the front of the march I didn’t see that we were headed straight for a police barricade until my toes hit it. We were completely blocked in. I spent a moment thinking about barricades and what the sight of these things could do to influence someone’s psyche. I thought about how much more I wanted to be on the other side of this thing in my way. It was doing its job, it was barricading me, and I wanted out! I thought, “I’m on this side, why can’t I be on that side? What is the point? If I walked around the block I could be standing there instead of here”. Right then someone did a “mic check” and suggested we go around, so we did. We crossed over to 6th Ave and started heading south, “ha ha”, I thought, “we’ve outsmarted them”. We marched down 6th Avenue to Canal Street without running into another barricade. Traffic was stuck the whole way, we weaved between cars and trucks as they idled helplessly, but the strange thing was that none of the people in the cars looked pissed, not even the cabbies. In fact, many honked their horns in support, some even gave the peace sign, it was amazing. I mean sure, there were a hand full of people that looked bothered by it, but for the most part they were thrilled, thrilled I think to be part of this in some way.
When I joined up with the march there were hundreds of us. As we made our way downtown we met up with other marchers and became thousands, and when we finally got to Foley Square we became tens of thousands. I have many memories of moments of camaraderie, times with friends and with family, even times with complete strangers, and I will remember this as one of those times. But what is most important is that it will not be a memory of regret, I was there, and because of that, I understand.
This is the link that led me to The Other 99’s Ustream, check it out: http://www.ustream.tv/theother99