On Friday night, I got a text from my best friend Robyn. Her program, the Advocate Program at Crisis Services in
was having a fundraiser and rally to bring awareness to gender relations and
sexual violence. Walk a Mile in Her
Shoes was going to be walking past our street on Saturday afternoon. She
hooked me when she said the male participants wear heels for the mile. I
knew my girls would be amused. Buffalo, NY
All morning, I kept referring to my mental note: Be at the corner at 1:00. We always run time down to fumes on the weekend. At 12:46, Princess Commando stood on the porch and shouted, "They’re already here!" I grabbed The Baby, charging to the corner- a chicken sandwich sloshing around in my stomach. When I saw the police escort- inching up the rear, my heart sank realizing we missed them.
I am not a runner. My legs are too short, my bladder too weak. But, I wanted to find Robyn and give her a hug. I am so proud of the work that she does.
"Screw it," I said grabbing Princess Commado's hand. "Let's run!"
Princess in her slippery, wornout Crocs and me-in my flimsy, insensible shoes- The Baby's weight a hellfire in my biceps- ran down the sidewalk to see if we could find Robyn.
"There!" I pointed to a man standing head and shoulders above the rest. It was Robyn's husband Ehren with their 4 year old daughter straddling his shoulders. We wove into the crowd to join them.
"Where did you guys come from?" he asked surprised to see us.
Panting and pointing behind me, "Wanted to cheer you on."
We had only planned on spectating as we had so many times before during events down this main thoroughfare. I felt awkward insinuating myself into the crowd. But, Ehren- along with Robyn's parents- encouraged us. And I was so happy that I did not give into the fear of peeing my pants. The pride at being a part of something greater than herself was evident on Princess Commando's face. She pointed out the handmade signs children her age carried, 'Speak Out,' 'Unite Against Violence,' 'It's time to practice consent.' She knew a little about the nature of Robyn’s work and understood the importance of solidarity. But she was most impressed with the men in heels. Not only were their shoes dazzling but they carried themselves with such grace, breezily gliding across the pavement. Every race, gender, age, sexual orientation moved in unison creating a warm current of awareness and hope down the avenue.
For me, walking under the shelter of community- of confluence for the common good- refreshed the waters of my psyche. I have been in a jam of cloudy feelings, lost in my own head -figuring out where I want my writing and illustrating to go. In my hunger for answers- I had become self-centered. Despite not feeling grounded and at the same time too anchored to the ground, the fellowship I felt in my neighborhood this weekend inspired thoughtfulness toward others and renewed my faith in mankind.
We are better, we do better, we know better when we participate rather than spectate. Saturday’s impromptu engagement- a special moment shared with my girls, my best friend's family and hundreds of strangers- made me realize that for all of the moments I have been anxious around people, there are also moments of unexpected joy that come from communion with others. We did not Walk a Mile in Her Shoes- just a 1/4 mile. But at the end of it, I was able to wrap my arms around my amazing friend- grateful for those whose life work is to make the world a better place with each step and stride.
Click here for photos from the event taken by The Men's Group. There is a photo of me and the girls on the second page. See if you can spot us. I'm sure you'll recognize The Baby right away.
*From the Crisis Services website: 'Each year, an ever-increasing number of men, women and their families are joining Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®: The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is a fun opportunity for men to take a stand with women as allies, raise awareness, and rally the community to take action to prevent sexualized violence