I’m a prepared and practical person. So I put it there in permanent marker, in case I needed it. In case I lost my identification. In case I lost my phone. In case I got separated from the woman I went to the march with.
And, of course, as with most things in life, I prepared for the worst so I wouldn’t need it. And I didn’t. But I knew that if I had. No matter the obstacle, my emergency contact would come running. Because I needed help.
And after I finally made it home at the end of a worthwhile day shared with women around the world, I washed with soap and water. But it wouldn’t come off.
So, I scrubbed a little harder. But the Sharpie stayed.
Then I loofahed a little. And came out silky smooth and exfoliated, but my felt-tipped forearm still screamed for assistance.
So, I surrendered, slipped on my pajamas and went about the rest of my bedtime ritual. But every time I moved my arm to brush my teeth or pull back the bedding or turn a page, the big black lettering would slide from my sleeve just enough to remind me that if I needed help, someone would answer the call.
So I folded back the felt and stared down at the broad-tipped, bold helping hand that refused to relinquish its grip on my forearm.
I considered using rubbing alcohol, but I was already in bed. Plus I wasn’t in the mood to lie there, all night long, stewing in the smell of sterile hospital stays gone by. This was not a day for that.
And I contemplated lemon oil. That would smell a lot better. Besides, when life gives you lemons…
You drive to LA.
Exercise your right to assemble.
And your right to free speech.
Then come home.
Crush the crap out of those lemons.
And rub their oil on your forearm!
I liked it! I like it a lot! But, I didn’t have any lemon oil or literal lemons, so I decided to just sleep on it.
And when I woke, my contact conundrum was slightly faded but still there. Still legible. Still promising to come when I called.
And as I pulled the cotton balls from the cupboard, I stopped myself. And stared. Stared hard at the options that I had. Right there. Just an arm’s length away.
A promise, there in permanent marker. In case I was in danger of losing my identity. Or losing my voice. Or becoming separated from society and shoved to the fringes.
In case, for some unforeseeable reason I was unable to do it myself. Help was on the way.
A boldfaced reminder that I, too, have a responsibility. Not just to walk or march. But to come running. Because I am that emergency contact who during that march, was just an arm’s length away. And I cannot fade. I must remain that helping hand that refuses to let go.
I put the cotton balls back. I closed the cupboard. I rolled up my sleeves.
I may truly remember the women’s march forever because my Sharpie-markered emergency contact info…is still on my forearm!
— Laura Becker
Laura Becker is an essayist who currently resides in Redondo Beach with her screenwriting partner/husband. Born in Missouri. Raised in Kansas. Adolescence/young adulthood in Iowa, which, according to Walter Neft in Double Indemnity, makes her a native Californian. She writes, quips, muses and laughs about almost anything…almost.