By Manissa McCleave Maharawal
In the past few weeks friends and family from around the country have asked me, with a deep urgency in their tone: “What is it like to be there? What does it feel like? How would you describe it?” These questions throw me because, like any project of describing life as it happens around you, when you are very much in it, it feels impossible sometimes. And so instead of describing what Occupy Wall Street feels like I say: “It is all happening so fast, it changes everyday, it is overwhelming, I am tired but I am also excited again, I’ve made new friends, new lovers and new enemies, I couldn’t have imagined my life would be like this a month ago.”
When I said this to my friend Amy last week she laughed and replied, half-jokingly: “That sounds like the start of the revolution.”
“Not yet,” I replied “but we’re trying.”
But my inability to answer this question has been nagging at me: Why is it so hard to describe what it feels like to be part of this movement that is not really a movement, this moment, this space? Maybe the fact that it is hard to describe is part of its strength?
Here is the thing: Occupy Wall Street has changed a lot over the past two weeks. It has grown tremendously, garnered more and more media attention and seems to be staying put for a while. While two weeks ago I walked away from Liberty Plaza thinking of how beautiful and inspiring it was, but also worried about how long it will be there, now the terrain of questions have shifted, it isn’t: When will the cops kick us out? but How will we grow? How do we sustain all the people that have come here? Should we occupy somewhere else too? That doesn’t mean that the cops getting rid of us isn’t still a major concern, but simply that now we feel like we are semi-established in some ways, or at least in enough ways that we can sustain something.