People marched on 1/21. These are their stories: Vallerie Legeay

All I can tell you is that no man, woman, corporate or governmental entity is ever going to succeed in attempting to put me back in a box.

I went to the Women’s March on January, 21st 2017 on the Walkway in Poughkeepsie, NY. I didn’t realize what it actually meant to me until weeks later, when I was asked to write about it. For the past few months, I wanted to participate with this international response of resistance against a growing fascist unease taking place, not only in the US, but throughout the world. I am weary of crowds, so going to DC to join thousands of people was out of the question.

Then, perchance, I read on social media that old friends who I had not seen in over 15 years were going to the Walkway, so I reached out to them and arranged to meet them there.

I arrived at the site of the event at 8:30 a.m. on the Poughkeepsie side of the river. The place was already a mob house. I thought: “How am I ever going to find them in this colorful and bountiful crowd?” I felt a bit overwhelmed. I turned around and bam! They were standing right behind me. I called out to them and it felt as if we had left each other the day before. Oh! The beauty of friendship!

We quickly fell into step with the crowd and proceeded to catch up 15 years of our lives while walking back to the Highland side of the bridge. It was delightful and a bit surreal.

I left them there, promising not to wait the length of a generation to meet again!

I meandered my way back reminiscing on my own. When I had last seen them, I was an illegal alien, cleaning houses for a living. There aren’t many prospects for illegals in the US without a green card. So in 2001, I stopped running and confronted my sabotaging demons. I realized as I strolled looking at the oncoming crowd on the bridge that over the past 15 years, I had entirely reinvented my life.

I straightened out my immigrant status when I won a permanent resident card through the Green Card Lottery. I went back to school full time. I now have a thriving massage therapy and esthetic practice. In September 2016, I worked at the US Open tennis tournament with the greatest female tennis athletes in the world. I currently assist the track and field team at New York Military Academy School near West Point during their championship meets.

Looking down at the river, I remembered what it feels like to swim with its flow. Last August I took on the challenge to swim across the Hudson. It was one of my most exhilarating and scariest accomplishments to date.

I don’t know what will happen with this government; all I can tell you is that no man, woman, corporate or governmental entity is ever going to succeed in attempting to put me back in a box. At 52, I finally made the switch from surviving to living.


©2017 Nadine Robbins. Unauthorized use of the images and copy from these stories is prohibited.