The Woman’s March on Washington was touch and go for me for a long time. I wanted to participate but didn’t want to go alone, as I am not a big fan of the subway. Sounds kind of wimpy, but truth is truth. I rolled the Facebook dice and asked for a ride. A kind lady replied. We talked on the phone for a bit and made sketchy plans. My instincts told me by her views, past work history, and being a grandma hitching a ride and crashing in her hotel room would be just fine. And it was. I even asked my Omaha companion to vouch for me as a safe travel mate, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t tell her we talked about robbing liquor stores.
She and her cute little mop dog picked me up at 4:30 AM. We stopped in Alexandria, Virginia to pick up breakfast at an amazing bakery, dropped off her dog, and a friend took us to the Metro station. From that moment on, it was nothing but pink pussycat hats, t-shirts, and posters everywhere. Amazing. The Metro was packed from boob to clear backpack. I eavesdropped on them all, where they came from, why they were marching, interested in their age groups and what they did for a living. The station where we planned to disembark was apparently overloaded, so they dropped us off at the next one. It was early, so more walking wasn’t a big deal. We freed ourselves from the squeeze of the subway car and shuffled towards the escalator that led up to the street. I saw many posters with Carrie Fisher or Princess Leia above the word “RESIST.” As the escalator brought us up to the street the one on the opposite side carried National Guardsmen down into the Metro. A loud burst of shouting “YAY” and clapping broke out for them. I felt proud.
Once on the sidewalk, it was easy to figure out which way to go. Just follow all those people walking down the middle of the street. Hundreds of us, all going thattaway, police directing the sparse bit of cars that wanted to get through intersections. I heard so many people thank the police and National Guardsmen and felt glad.
The day before was the inauguration, so many Portajohns were put in place for the crowds to relieve themselves. Most of them were padlocked the following day, the day of our march. Finding a place to pee meant watching the marchers go by while we stood in line, but sometimes you just have to put your sign down and answer the call of nature no matter how long it takes.
Arriving on the Mall and seeing the Lincoln memorial down one way and Washington monument the other, its point obscured in the fog, was very exciting. We made it! We ambled the same way everyone else ambled, reading signs, listening to the chanting that broke out every now and then. The plan was to meet up near the rally point. We left the Mall and tried to make our way towards the rally, or at least near the jumbotron but it was a dead end. We were behind the Native American Museum with nowhere to go, but more and more people kept coming up behind us, and I could see it wasn’t going to stop. Roars broke out from stem and it waved and roared and roared all the way to stern, and I’d never seen or heard anything like that before. I’ve been in some pretty big concert crowds wearing other people’s sweat, my arms pinned and being moved, feet off the ground, by the movement of excited people. There is nothing like being part of a group who is there for the same reason, the same happiness and excitement. It can be fun, exhilarating, but also dangerous. I told my march buddy I felt uncomfortable and I wanted to get back to the Mall before we got so jammed up we wouldn’t be able to breathe. We turned and went upstream of the unending salmon and eventually made it back to the Mall. There we were able to read amazing signs and take note of everyone’s creativity. A marching band came down dressed head to toe in white with black lines made to look like a wall, and they were awesome. Some folks banged drums in time with their slogans. Many times I felt close to tears because of the solidarity and creativity of everyone who came.
I saw a small group of pro-life people but they were being drowned out, surrounded by everyone else who did not share their view. I wanted to throw them the middle finger, it would have been so easy, I am such an angry woman, but I realized that would bring me down to their level. We walked by observing silence.
Me and my marching partner found a small restaurant where we ate and watched the news. The march wasn’t exactly cancelled, but it was definitely log jammed and rerouted because there were too many people to convey onto the original route. Wow! Upon seeing the crowd from above we both agreed we wanted to get out of Dodge before everybody decided to get on the Metro. We finished eating and hopped the next train.
I didn’t get to hear any of the speakers (oh but we heard the roar while we were there), but I believe, based on what was reported, many of those people did not represent me. I have my own reasons for being a body on the Mall, filled with pink hats and good behavior. I will never forget that day, my 49th birthday, and will always be grateful for a lady who took a chance on letting me hitch a ride. My reasons for marching will be on the next post.