I voted for Susan Collins in 2014. That’s a whole ‘nother column altogether, but suffice it to say I will not be doing it again.

But I did five years ago. And last year, the choice I made to mark that ballot the way I did in 2014 weighed heavily on my conscience. Sen. Collins let down millions of survivors of sexual assault nationwide when she voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. She let down friends of mine who literally banged on her office door, talked to her staff and begged them — begged Susan Collins — not to vote for Kavanaugh. And she did anyway. I saw their heartbreak, and I knew that in at least some small way, part of that was my fault.

So when I was invited to go down to a protest at the Supreme Court this past weekend, I saw an opportunity for penance. I’m not Catholic and neither is my family, but I did go to Catholic school for 13 years, and that affected me in ways that I am still discovering.

I knew I would be mentally and physically exhausted and sleep deprived by the trip to D.C., and I was. (We left Portland at 6 p.m. Saturday and got back at 6 a.m. Monday. No overnight stops. You can do the math.) I knew my feet would be sore from the marching, and they were. The terrible roads around New York City jolted my lower back. I welcomed the pain and exhaustion (as much as one can, I guess). I carried a sign. I chanted. I stood in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in a red, white and blue jacket that had belonged to my grandfather.

I’ve been to Washington, D.C., many times because I have family in the area. But this was my first time at the Supreme Court. We couldn’t get onto the steps, or even onto the plaza where the fountains are, because police had put up barricades and were physically guarding them. (The irony of showing up to demand justice and not even be able to get on the steps of the building where the justice is supposed to happen was not lost to me. It was one of the few times I got up on my huffy taxpayer high horse.) It’s an imposing building, all enormous white marble solemnity. I got to see the famous words over the entrance with my own eyes: “Equal Justice Under Law.”

At this point in American history, that statement is more of an aspiration than a fact, but, well, it’s always good to have goals.

We may have been there for a solemn reason — to call for the impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh, who I believe to be entirely temperamentally unfit to sit on the Supreme Court, in particular because of the evidence that he lied to the Senate under oath, and to more generally loudly protest social changes that would fling us back to the 1950s — but on a personal level, I had a great time. If you ever get the opportunity to cram yourself into a van for 20 hours and approximately 1,082 miles with bunch of liberals and women and queers, I highly recommend you do it. It was a balm for my soul.

We blasted Lizzo’s music, we gossiped about politics, we compared tattoos. I met Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who spoke at the rally and is just the most calmly charismatic, beautiful person you could ever possibly imagine. Nobody got arrested, which I was grateful for because I admit to being a chicken when it comes to crossing the law. (Catholic school tends to make you a rule-follower.)

And after a long day of protesting outside the pinnacle of one of our government’s three branches, I went to a Waffle House for the first time. What could be more American than that?

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial


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