And I cried. Standing in the back of the room, Hub on the sofa to my right, my son and DIL standing nearby and my granddaughters running around on the deck just outside, I was moved by the moment.
I was overcome with memories of myself at 23 years old, having been introduced to feminism in a Women's Lit class -- the first college class I ever took. (I was late to college, having chosen to work right out of high school). That firebrand feminist professor spoke of ways women could be in the world that I had never known or imagined before. Other women in the class were equally moved. I found friends there and with them formed a Consciousness Raising Group. We met in each other's living rooms for three years, raising our voices, our fists, and the questions that came to define the Women's Movement. We hosted a major women's weekend at the college, the first of its kind, with the featured speaker being author and feminist icon Germaine Greer. We were in awe. We worked our butts off for the Equal Rights Amendment; lobbying, writing letters, marching. Some of us from those years became life-long friends. We've scattered geographically and have pursued different life paths, but several of us are still in touch via Facebook now. We've all grown older and perhaps more mellow, but we haven't forgotten and hadn't given up the dream of what could be.
Watching Hillary I remembered, too, that the volatility of that personal awakening in the '70's wrecked havoc with my fledgling marriage, leading to a year-long separation from Hub when I was 27 years old. We had married at 21 as high school sweethearts with no life experience to speak of, expecting him to be a teacher in our hometown and me to be a housewife and mother. Then our worlds had come undone with a move to the big city, him in medical school, me in college and suddenly also a feminist ready to rail at the world -- and him. It was a hard and important time in our lives. It changed us. It moved us forward, eventually, to becoming a couple today in our 60's sitting in our home with our family and friends watching history being made by Hillary Clinton -- the first woman ever to be a major party nominee for President in the United States. Watching, I felt keenly the passage of time, yet also gave a nod to that young woman in her 20's who still lives within me, smiling and raising a fist in the air in solidarity with a moment so long in coming.
Tears in my eyes, I looked over at my daughter-in-law standing next to me and saw her wipe a tear. My son handed us both tissues and he put an arm around me. I heard my grand girls in the background and realized this was what it was all about; that our work and passion back then would mean that the generations coming after me would have a different world to live and grow within. They will have their own passions, their own fights, their own awakenings, but maybe this one is one they won't have to struggle so much to win.
I know there is still sexism, misogyny. I know it's not all fixed with one woman finally standing on the national political stage in a place previously allowed only to men. But to me Hillary looked like a beacon, a light toward which we all turned last week and I thought, "Yes. Here we are. I've been waiting for 43 years. We rise! Finally, we rise."
At least, that's the view from here...©