Sunday, December 25, 2011

and Joy... to the World

I took my sister to Liberty Plaza last night. It was her first time, and she wasn’t comfortable twinkling or shouting or holding one of the freedom fingers—the candles in the shape of a large fist with a middle finger raised high—but she was there.

I wasn’t going to take a candle either—just pictures—but someone firmly handed me his wax hand even as I said, “But…but these hands play with play-doh!”…Peer pressure is a powerful force.

So, feeling a little light-headed—and very light-fingered—we joined the wild and freezing mob huddling for warmth around the big circle that used to be full of plantings and now appeared to have some sort of landscaping fabric over it. The trees twinkled, the park security in day-glo vests watched, we lit up.

Eventually we decided to go visit Wall Street. It was spontaneous enough that there weren’t many police when we arrived. Some steps were briefly mounted on our way, but we ended up on the sidewalk across from the Stock Exchange with no harm nor foul. Its pillars out front were flood lit a deep red. Someone in the crowd announced that it was unfortunate as a color choice, since it was the color of blood. I decided that it was the color of communism (better red than dead?), and just enjoyed the pretty lights. Some of us started to sing (though the number of people who just hummed after the first few words of Silent Night was regrettable. I soldiered on, but wished I hadn’t just spent ten minutes chanting myself hoarse. Urgh.)

There was some philosophical discussion—do we say Fuck the Cops when someone else mic checks it even though we don’t approve of that message because of its divisiveness? Or do we have that conversation in private because solidarity in public is important? (It would be nice if people didn’t Mic Check things that others might be uncomfortable shouting, but I guess that’s an even more awkward conversation to have…)

And there were speeches: earlier at Liberty someone had spoken about how the middle finger was a form of speech and free expression. In front of Wall Street, someone stood on a piece of sturdy street furniture and told us to pay attention to this moment. In twenty years, we would remember this night with tears in our eyes.

Folks had such a good time, they decided they should finish the GA there. But the wind was hard and sister and I did not feel up for staying for the GA, so we turned and walked back up Wall Street. It was a little unnerving: walking with a large and rambunctious group of young people past silent cops is one thing, walking past when it’s just you and your equally short sister is quite another. (One young man turned to the livestream earlier that night and explained that he didn’t want to do X because he would get arrested, and “I’m too cute to go to jail!” …our sentiments, exactly…)

So, we wrapped ourselves in our adorableness and, as we strolled the long way around the cold metal barricades, started singing.

That was a moment I will always remember: up a dark and windy Wall Street towards Trinity Church, watched over by vaguely miserable blue angels, singing “Silent Night”… or at least the first one and three quarters verses of it… My sister and I sang together for solace and for solidarity.

There were no tears for once, just joy in the quiet moment.

May all your days be merry and brightly lit, and may all your revolutions be filled with such joy.

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