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As I stood under a bridge, rain and wind spun and crossed around the crowd. I felt lonely as a young teenager, only fifteen at the time, in a crowd full of adults. The dancers hopped from side to side in their silver outfits; most were skin tight. I closed my eyes most times, trying not to see what was out in the open for the rest. They showed a choreographed routine. Tubos, trumpets, a snare section, and a few horns blew. Their powered machines which sang out through the wind.
“What should I do?” I said. Maya, the volunteer coordinator, stood in front of the rest of the volunteers and me. She had a nose ring with dark brown hair that fell just below her shoulder. I could only see the front half, however, because she always kept her hood on. In the circle, it was a habit to keep looking at the difference of people. Here we were, collaborating with a group for a common goal. The whole crowd was.
Looking around, people stood, and some even held signs, while the band went on and the dancers moved. They swayed their arms, jumping from one foot to the next. Wherever they went, the band followed.
Soon the crowd moved about too. Fists in the air as they yelled,”save our planet before it is too late!”. It hurt my eyes if I were honest. Some sang it out badly. Even myself, trying to join, did not feel like I could fit in. I sang quietly after a bit. Eventually, I quit.
“I will hand out heat bags and have people sign the signatures,” I told Maya. It was for a petition to stop the oil transport and to focus more on planting plants and looking into climate change.
“Ok, sounds good,” she responded.
Around on my feet, my toes tingle and my fingers moved in few directions as the frigid downpour hit us from all directions. The heat packet heated my palms slightly, but I could see the red that stained my hands. The river boarded us on one side, and the bridge supported us on the other but only later was it time we would set on our journey across the bridge to preach our message of worship.
“Please, can you sign this?” I looked into the eyes of individuals who stood around.
One lady, looked to be in her fifties or forties, who had been standing around the crowd, peering around and looking into the action. “Thanks,” I smiled. She was on her way, and I for mine too.
I was supposed to hand out heat packets. Honestly, I wanted to keep them for myself. I was cold enough, myself, that I had about five in places all over my body. In my pockets, socks, and hands. Most times it was two, but one if I had to let go.
The only time I had to go was when we headed up the bridge. The white bridge which had many people in a line of many different ethnicities holding many different colored umbrellas. Rain, usual in Portland, Oregon. This did not stop us. In fact, I was more encouraged by it in my bright orange Oregon-State University. I hated rain, but something inside told me to keep walking. Something inside told me to keep fighting for what I believe. The society wants me to quit; they want you to give up. It will cost your dad gas money, will cost you a Saturday on the couch when you could be watching movies. However, to fight for a better world with cleaner air for future generations is a thing to fight for.