The last time I went to Equity Day in Olympia, or something like it, I was single, about 25, and ended up getting interviewed on some news channel before the whole world started watching social media.
Here’s how different it was this past President’s Day:
My friend Billie Jo has 3 children, 6 and under. Together with my six year old, we had a pack of kids with us, and I felt much more like a kitten herder than any sort of political activist.
We van pooled down there to arrive at 9:00 am before things got going at the capitol building. Quinton, usually the loudest in his home crowd, objected at one point to the noise level of our trip. We told him it was all a part of the adventure.
After a brief circling of the main streets, we found Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters where we set up shop in the corner of their broad space with polished wooden floors.
With coffee for the moms and donuts for the shorter people, Billie Jo gave them card stock to draw onto and stickers to add. After they finished, Jo and I wrote messages asking our legislators to fully fund their public education. They have a few years in front of them! Because we live in Western Washington, my friend also packed ziplock bags to keep our words and art dry.
Then we tromped up the hill from downtown to the capitol where people of every order gathered to listen to speeches and lobby for equity of all kinds. It was even noisier than the van at some points and the crowd stretched from one set of stone stairs to the other.
Inside the building we found more quiet and the marble stairs of a building that looks like it lives in another time. The kids gazed up at the chandeliers and the giant dome where Quinton’s uncle Kim once worked to repair the earthquake damage of 2011. They stared down at the golden seal with George Washington on it in the middle of the floor and threatened to stress their mothers by stepping through the barrier ropes.
We even made it into the senate chamber during a recess. The suited guard ushered us in with a smile and asked us to put our pointy umbrellas to the side.
Sitting on the cushioned benches, we looked down into the chamber below with the swivel chairs while Quinton admired the piles of papers on some of their desks and the interns in suit jackets milled around. We talked about how the laws get made and the two branches of government working a little like a mom and a dad at home. Sam the four-year-old found this dull and circled the benches from beneath flashing us dangerous grins.
We did not push our luck and left the senate viewing before things got any wilder.
Before our bathroom break, I found my cousin Roxy and got to give her a quick hug next to the bust of Washington and the booths with Civics Day information.
Just like mountain climbing, the return to the van was more challenging than any other part of the trip.
The kids were tired. The moms were tired. And the five blocks to our parking space felt like five miles with whining about the walking and sidewalks too close to the traffic for the kitten herders.
But we made it. The kids settled into snacks and the moms loved the chat on our final push back home. I don’t know if any representative saw us but the kids know more about government, and I got to enjoy one of my favorite friendships once more.
I wouldn’t trade with the 25-year-old on TV for all the coffee in that shop.