Today’s voyage was a step towards social activism with a side of sweet strawberry ice cream. It all started a few days ago when the vote on the Affordable Care Act by the Senate was announced. As someone who is insured through the ACA, the dismantling of it without a better plan in place is kind of horrifying. I spent most of the day shaking my head and reading various articles and opinions on the matter, all leaving me with a sinking hole in my stomach (damnit – now I’ve established that as a preexisting condition). I finally realized I wanted to take action so I called my congressman and voiced my support for the ACA. The Rhode Island congressional representatives were all in favor of not dismantling the ACA, so making that call was not much of a big deal, but it was all I could do. I called Representative Cicilline of the 1st District and told his office that I support his efforts, that this is an important decision for our nation and I would continue to support him as long as he continues the fight for what is right. Again, he was already fighting for it, so my call was nothing more than a pep talk, I suppose. But I was on record now and I suppose that was something.
The next day I got an email from the Congressman. It was a form letter but it said he saw that I called about the ACA. He then let me know about a rally on Sunday (today) in Johnston, RI as part of the National Day of Action to save health care reform. He would be there along with our other congressional delegation. He encouraged me to be there too. Oh great. I called your office. Now I have to go to a rally? Who does he think I am, Ghandi? I let that letter sit in my inbox for a few days. Meanwhile, on Friday, the vote to begin the repeal of the ACA passed in Congress.
Ok, back to today. Today was National Strawberry Ice Cream Day which was going to be pretty easy to celebrate. If I couldn’t find an ice cream place, I could always buy a tub at the store. That’s an easy flavor to find. It was never my favorite flavor. I remember my Mom used to buy that tri-flavored ice cream carton with strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. I would eat the vanilla, my sister the chocolate, and my brother would do all three. But in the end, it always ended up having just strawberry left. I imagine strawberry ice cream was a treat back in the days before strawberries were so readily available throughout the year. A taste of freshness. I’m spoiled by the advances in farming and food production. In any case, it’s a pretty easy thing to celebrate.
I was futzing around the house in the morning looking for something to do. Lola was hunkered down this weekend working and the challenge for me was to not bug her. I can be a bit of a pest if I’m around. I whistle or sing when I am in a quiet room. I interrupt with really trivial things like “have you seen my shoes?” or “wanna see a funny video?” I make a lot of noise. All that is not good for someone who is concentrating and trying to write. I felt it best that I find a way to get out of the house. That made me think of the rally. I was going back and forth on the matter, and then I saw it was actually Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. When I saw that, I realized that participating in a rally would be a way to celebrate this day. I got dressed and jumped in my car en route to Johnston and my first political rally.
Johnston is just outside of Providence and it took about 40 minutes to get there. I thought it was going to be an outside event, so I made sure to dress warm. Unfortunately, it was being held inside the Johnston Senior Center and I was dressed way too warmly. They filed us in, signing us in as we walked through the doors and through the small smattering of police keeping an eye out for safety. I found a spot against the wall which, although I couldn’t see the stage, allowed me to lean and to take off my coat. The place was packed – not an empty seat in the place, plus there were about 200 people outside that could not get in due to capacity limits. I timed my arrival right because I got inside and then the speakers started talking about five minutes after I settled in.The speeches started with the mayor of Johnston and moved on to Senator Reed. I spent a lot of time people-watching too (it was excellent people watching territory). Somewhere in my mind I thought this rally would be filled with more energy than it was – that we would all leave as one and march into history. That was not the case. There was nothing earth shattering that I heard at the rally. I was pretty much aware of what the situation was so I wasn’t hearing anything I hadn’t already read about. But in the end, I can say I was there alongside a few hundred other Rhode Islanders that were outraged about the repeal of the ACA. By just being there, I let my congressional representatives know that I stood with them in their actions and that I expect them to keep fighting. I fancy myself a fan of Pete Seeger, so I took consolation in the lyrics from one of his songs (“My Name is Lisa Kalvelage”):
“The events of May 25th, the day of our protest, Put a small balance weight on the other side. Hopefully, someday my contribution to peace, Will help just a bit to turn the tide..”
I didn’t do much to change the course of events today, but I was there. I participated. I let my concerns be known. It was the National Day of Action and Our First Stand, so even though I was part of a few hundred people in Rhode Island, nationwide I was part of thousands speaking up. That’s a small balance weight added to the scales of justice. That was part of Dr. King’s message too. So I honored him today, in a very small way. That felt good.
On my way home, I made a quick stop in Tiverton to the Moose Cafe which is surprisingly open year round, and more surprisingly, busy. They have a full menu of sandwiches and coffee too, so I am sure that was driving business. We have to visit here more often because it’s a great little spot. I was there for the ice cream and so I ordered up a regular sized cone with strawberry ice cream. I think that was the first time I have ever ordered strawberry ice cream from an ice cream place. It was actually very good. Creamy and fresh. You could tell the strawberries were not some odd frozen product. They were real and swirled in nicely with the sweet cream. I was pretty happy. I am not sure how they keep their ice cream so fresh. They have almost 100 flavors (even in winter), but this ice cream tasted as fresh as it would in the summer. A sweet little reward for my social action today.
A sweet ending to my first adventure in political activism (although admittedly I wasn’t very active). I don’t mean to get political here, but if I am documenting my journey of celebration, I have to be honest with what’s happening in my life. The truth is there are so many things happening in the country right now that it scares the hell out of me. These posts are at heart about the goodness I see and celebrate (strawberry ice cream being part of that). But it’s also about celebrating in little ways too, and on the birthday of one of greatest activists ever, participating is a way to celebrate. Sometimes it’s just time to take a stand, and it was my quest that pushed me out the door and on my way to Johnston. This blog will keep being about the joy of celebration, but sometimes that comes with me standing up for what I think is important. But, don’t worry, I’ll always bring the ice cream too.
Next Up: National Fig Newton Day