Content Warning: sexual assault
In Dublin, it was ten o'clock at night. My friend Andrea and I were having a girl's night in after our first week at the Gaiety School of Acting. Turns out acting school makes you really crave chocolate and early bed times. Who knew? We had cookies and milk, Goldfish, and chips and salsa. I made chamomile tea. We did face masks and watched The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was perfect.
Then, Andrea told me that Brett Kavanaugh had been voted into the Supreme Court.
Sometimes, it's hard to remember that there's a world going on outside of Dublin, that there's a life to be lived on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. That some day, I'm going to go back to America, whether I like it or not. It's not that I forget where I'm from, exactly. I think about North Carolina every now and again, when I see leaves changing colors or get a craving for sweet tea. It's just that I forget that America's problems are my problems, too. Part of that is my privilege--middle-class cisgender white girl? What do I have to lose, right?--but part of that is all this distance, miles and miles of ocean separating me from home. Ireland's issues are becoming my issues because their stories are what I see every day. America is a far-off dream, a monster I'll one day have to battle, but not for another two months. Why waste the present worrying about the future?
But America didn't stop in its tracks just because I left.
Christine Blasey Ford studied at UNC Chapel Hill. She walked the same brick pathways, sat on the same stairs in the Pit, sipped from the same Old Well, maybe studied in the same cubicles in the UL or laid in the same sunny patch of grass on the Quad. And everywhere she went, she carried the weight of her assault on her shoulders. How heavy her burden must have been. How strong she was forced to become. Her years of suffering, her painful moment of truth, and now, what were they for? For her attacker to take one of the most powerful positions in our nation's government.
I feel so helpless and out of control. We both did, Andrea and I, sitting there with our cookies and milk, not talking, barely breathing. We didn't know what to do with this news. Dr. Ford isn't just a woman telling a story. Dr. Ford is my group of friends at our first frat party freshman year, descending the stairs into what is known as the fraternity "rape basement" because that's where the brothers told us the drinks were. Dr. Ford is my friend, crying at 3 a.m. because her assault will always haunt her. Dr. Ford is the drunk girl I found hiding in the bathroom because a man won't stop harrassing her. Christine Blasey Ford is every single one of us, every woman who has ever experienced harrassment or assault at the hands of a man who feels like he is taking what he is owed. We know her story. We all do. In that moment, an ocean away, I could reach out and touch America. Wrap my arms around every American woman and femme. Tell them I believe them. Tell them I care.
So now I can only ask myself, what is next? Where do I go from here? How does an American in Dublin fight for justice at home? I use my voice. I write this blog post. I vote. No matter what it takes, how long and confusing the process may be, I vote. I vote. I vote. And every day, I support women. Women of color. Trans women. Gender-fluid and non-binary individuals. Immigrant women. American women. Irish women. The hardest part about being this far from home is the feeling that my voice is too far away to be heard. But it isn't. My voice is as loud as ever. And this is the time when I absolutely must use it. I have to. For them. For her. For me. For all of us.