3:30 AM came mighty early on Sunday morning. But, the early awakening and driving in darkness was so worth it.
You see, I was preparing to walk toward my dream, to begin another phase of transformation.
So, at 5:30 AM, we began our journey from Newton, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C. To march, and to rally, for full and equal rights. Eighteen of us all together. Most of us had never met other people on the van, or in the two cars that were in the caravan. The ages ranged from eighteen up to women in their fifties and sixties. Some of us were there with friends, some with partners, some on their own. Some of us were allies, some were gay. Before that day, I had never met any of those on the van before.
What an adventure.
The main thing that we had in common at 5:30 AM, anticipating a ride of several hours to DC, was a desire to see justice come to be. To see full and equal rights. We may have each had a motivation that made it unique to ourselves, but the common cause was justice, equality, fairness, and civil rights.
Less than an hour into the trip, we began to share food that we all had collaborated in bringing along. One person brought brie cheese and lime flavored tortilla chips. Another couple brought homemade egg salad, bagels and bread. Yet another person brought candy corn and gumdrops. We had protein, carbs, fruit, drinks, and companionship.
By the time we were halfway to Washington, we knew additional aspects of life that we had in common. Pets. Children. Foods we enjoyed. Surviving cancer. Vacations. Causes. Friends.
What connects us as people is always so much more powerful than what divides us. It allows us to see the true spirit that shines from one another.
One of the most impacting stories of that day, among those that joined us, was in relation to the three teenage women that drove behind the van in their car. Samantha had left a note for her mother at 4:30 that morning, simply stating “I am going to change the world.” Those young women ended up coming with us after hearing about the march from a patron at K Mart the night before, one of our other fellow marchers.
All of them allies. All of them heterosexual, yet knowing that equality is equality, plain and simple.
By the time we pulled back into Newton, New Jersey at 2:00 AM Monday morning, I no longer thought of those other seventeen people as strangers. Rather, I had made seventeen new friends, comrades in arms, who will go forward with me on this journey toward full equality, in this battle for justice.
Our journey together has just begun.