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The River Diaries

October 5, 2000, a gray rainy Thursday

Last night I came home very late from a difficult Lesbian Herstory Archives collective meeting. Paula, a very old friend and member of the collective, added two hours to her drive home on Long Island to take me home on a night when heavy rain and crashing thunder made the trip even more difficult. I brought home huge shopping bags of subject file materials that went back to the late 1980s. To the outside eye, I must have looked liked a limping gray-haired woman carrying huge amounts of newspaper clippings, but I always feel like a resistance fighter when I am carrying those shopping bags of ten-year-old news items. The days spent sorting them, getting them ready for living use, is a form of quilt-making. As I straighten them out, mark their subject, source and dates on the margins, get them ready for photocopying, I can see the patchwork of ideas, judgments, victories and losses that form one version of our public history. I think of those who will come in the future and touch these saved stories of mind and body: they will touch me as well.

It was one o’clock in the morning by the time I sat down at my computer to get my daily correspondences. And with the rain pouring outside, I found these words from Lepa:

then the streets—the streets today were full of people almost non-stop! the students were circulating from noon to 10pm. I was two hours with them. The citizens after 5pm started travelling to the mine about 60km away, which was blocked with police, to support the miners... and that was a magnificent move... everything which happens these days has never happened before. The town looks different, the main street was closed to cars and buses, for almost the whole day! Killers are crumbling—tomorrow there will be more people at 3pm. We are walking with full feet.

Full feet, workers and students, women and men, citizens together. Shopping bags and late night meetings, websites and a friend’s caring; people’s efforts, women’s efforts, lesbians’ efforts to change what a new day brings.


© 2000 Joan Nestle, Lepa Mladjenovic

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