When I lived in North Carolina, I learned to enjoy doing things alone. It’s pretty freeing, honestly. I don’t have to make sure my plans sound good to anyone else, I don’t have to worry about another person’s bodily functions. (This isn’t even about dating. Which, yes, is one of the strangest aspects of the human experience. But even bad dates make for hilarious stories.)
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being around people. I LOVE inviting my friends places and bringing groups together. But I enjoy people a lot more when I get to spend time on my own and go do something you wouldn’t expect a 25 year old woman to do without backup.
Like going to Disneyland by myself for a few hours just because I love it.
Or like going to a presidential rally in the heart of Hollywood. Wearing makeup, heels and my best butt jeans with my arms and collarbone exposed. Alone.
Just hear me out. I’m not one of those *crazy* Libertarians who thinks Gary Johnson will save us all. Though I suspect anyone who wants to be anything but a Republican or Democrat sounds a little nutty. Frankly, I might only vote on the propositions because that’ll affect me way more than the president will. Who knows. I don’t know how my faith will convict me on November 8.
Full disclosure, I wanted to go to this rally because I wanted a positive story that rape culture might be changing. I was praying with my eyes open the whole time for honest connections with other people who want good things for our country. I wanted to know that there might be more good men who were complete strangers who would see me as a whole person, not an object. I wanted them to look me in the eye for the duration of our conversation and would listen when I shared my experience as a woman in the workforce who has come out the other side of sexual abuse.
You guys. It was far and out one of the most delightful days I’ve ever had.
I was one of the first 30 people in line and I showed up about 45 minutes before the cocktail hour was set to start. I didn’t expect to be so close to the front of the line. My only frame of reference for presidential rallies was reading about Bernie, Hillary and Trump events where people would wait for hours on end and still not make it in.
I stood next to a nice old man named Jim. He spent the full 45 minutes telling me about his photojournalist son who lives in The Czech Republic with his wife who he met in Spain and all the adventures they had freelancing and hiking in Europe. In those 45 minutes I was fighting against biology because, being a college-educated woman, I decided to wear a stick-on bra in 90 degree heat. Don’t make my mistakes. I was all too aware of my melting breasts. Fall, where the fuck you at?
They opened up the doors and let people in, ten at a time. I made friends with two lovely men that were about my age who I learned were professional ballet dancers. They later told me they were surprised I approached them because my RBF is strong. We immediately jumped into conversation about how excited we were to be at a rally, how none of us had been to one and who we thought might show up. We found seats on some plush couches near the bar, not quite 25 yards away from the stage.
The crowd was hyped in a great way. LITERALLY EVERYONE WAS SUPER FRIENDLY. It was an extrovert’s DREAM. The speeches were inspiring, and I’ll gladly admit that when Johnson took the stage and spoke on abortion and relations with Mexico I was the first to cheer and get the applause rolling. Oh you want to stay out of my uterus because you think I deserve to make decisions about my body and you don’t want to build a wall to block half my culture? AND YOU CONDEMN THE WAY TRUMP SPEAKS ABOUT WOMEN? BLESS YA.
His speech ended. I found my way to the front. I got a selfie with him because it was a bucket list thing for me to get a photo with a presidential candidate — doesn’t matter that he’s third party, he’s still running. It’s also on my bucket list to meet a former president or Joe Biden but we’re going to do one thing at a time.
I made my way back to my new friends and they were chatting with the one annoying person in the crowd. (If you watched my Snapchat story, you know the one.) I introduced myself, I don’t remember his name. But I do remember how the hair stood up on the back of my neck when he looked at me. I was wandering away and excitedly messaging my friends that I shook hands with Gary Johnson only to hear, “Bonnie! Why aren’t you following me on social media? Get over here and add me!”
Okay so no. That’s not how you connect on social media unless you’re a sleaze. I’m not sure what made me ask it, but the words, “you’re not here because you support Gary Johnson… are you?” — “Nope. Trump all the way.”
Awesome. That’s why I had a physical reaction to your existence.
He launched into why he believed Trump was God’s gift to America and I ran for it. Well. I didn’t run but I managed to get away and into a different conversation with someone who didn’t have the crazy eyes like this dude. (Don’t get me wrong, I have friends who are Trump supporters AND they’re sane human beings who back their shit up and I love them the same way I stand with the thin blue line and believe Black Lives Matter.) He threw off the experience for all of five minutes.
People matter more than politics but I will not ignore my “he’d probably grab my pussy without permission” radar.
I watched most of the debate with my new friends. We shouted at the ridiculousness of it all. We talked about dating and photography and faith and my rape. I told them about how they all work together to make my story what it is. We exchanged social media information and they commended me for showing up to the rally alone and said they couldn’t imagine thinking the way I have to think in order to protect myself. They said they were glad I gave them honest insight to being a woman. I guess I just found the point to this whole post: yesterday was a metaphor for being a woman in 2016.
It’s not all bad. In fact, it’s 95% awesome and then there’s some really random and fucked up nonsense like excessive boob sweat and creepy dudes who make your hair stand up that can throw it off every once in a while. We have so much opportunity. We can vote, work, stay at home, marry who we want, make our own decisions, wear clothes that make us feel empowered, control our own finances, get educations…
It really is one of the best times to be alive.
It’s the best time to be alone.