If You Listen Real Close

At the very beginning of this semester, I wrote about uncertainty in where my home was and what home meant to me. A few weeks after that, I posted a brief reflection on the Parkland shooting in Florida.

For spring break, I went to visit my grandparents in Washington, D.C. The second week of break happened to overlap with the first weekend of my best friend’s break, and also happened to be March 24th: March for Our Lives.

The week before the rally I spent time with my grandparents and I went downtown quite a bit to explore the city. I have seen parts of historic Washington before, but often when I was little and couldn’t wholly grasp what I was seeing. Over the course of a couple days I explored the National Mall, a significant portion of the Smithsonian Institute, and walked the streets of Washington. Then on the 24th my best friend and I armed ourselves with our posters and joined hundreds of thousands on Pennsylvania Avenue to protest gun violence in America.

I was very impressed with the March for Our Lives program; I was thrilled that everyone who spoke was young, and appreciated the celebrities who chose to donate and perform. The speeches were moving, the videos powerful, and the camaraderie of standing in the streets to fight for a reform such a long time coming was fantastic.

I hope to see some of those students back on Capitol Hill someday, and I don’t think I’ll have any problem supporting Emma Gonzales or David Hogg (or anyone else from Never Again MSD) if they decide to run for president one day, as many posters at the rally encouraged them to.

I mean, we know they’ll do a better job than our current president.

It was an incredible privilege to attend the March for Our Lives and to see those young people – “young people” I say when I am only a year or two older than many of them – actively at work in the country. Florida recently passed new gun control legislation achieving many of the goals the movement seeks nationally, millions showed up to march around the country, and this has all happened in less than forty days since the Parkland shooting. The first video shown at the rally, the one right after the opening performance, was easily my favorite and I hope those videos will be uploaded in the coming days as right now I’ve been limited to scrolling through hours of grainy live-screen footage.

I told my mom about how exhilarating the march was and she said: “I just hope it results in legislation this time.” Because we’ve been here before. After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Orlando, after Vegas. I want to say that this feels different to me, but we won’t know for sure until that legislation is passed.

Still, David Hogg’s powerful speech from Saturday comes to mind: “If you listen real close … you can hear the people in power shaking.” And as I stood surrounded by hundreds of thousands of others in the streets of Washington chanting “vote them out!” in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol I thought David’s right, they’re shaking. And right now, they’re either with us or against us. And I wouldn’t want to be the one standing in the way of these students.

I started this by mentioning two past blog posts: On Parkland and Gun Control and Walking Home. In regard to Walking Home no, I’m not about to say “I found home and it’s in D.C.” What I can say is that I have family in D.C. I have history in D.C. Washington gives me the same content thrill in my stomach as London, and I think I would be more than happy to live or work there one day. Not home right now, but I think I might like it to be.

My academic advisor asked me last week what I wanted to do after college and I said, “I don’t know.” And what foreign language did I want to take, “I don’t know.” And which linguistics track did I want to focus on, “I don’t know.”

After a slightly uncomfortable silence he said “well, it’s only your first year so that’s okay – you have time.”

I don’t know a lot about what I want from my future right now. I want peculiar things, small things. I don’t want to live in Ohio – sorry Ohio. I want to own a mint plant – yes, I’m a weird person, we know that. I probably would prefer an apartment over a house. And now I think, I may want to live in Washington or in London, or at least a big city – someplace near the coast. I want to see national gun control legislation passed and while we’re at it I’m sure by the time I’m an adult – like, an actual adult – we’ll have another great political victory. Like maybe an overhaul of public education or police reform or minority rights or some environmental victory.

Regardless of where I’m headed, I think the future of America is looking ever-brighter. Thank you to the students with Never Again MSD, thank you to the minorities who have gone unheard for so long, thank you to the families of past victims because I really do hope we can now say “never again.”

-Grace T, March 2018

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