Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Half a Million of Us

The Women’s March on Washington was a big, sloppy mess, but it was the event of my life. I could tell it was going to be as we were going there. Even four days before the actual march, on airplanes, in terminals – you could see us gathering. We would recognize one another – sometimes by the t-shirts that we were wearing, but usually just by the energy level.

My husband and I were lucky. We were invited by his sister who lives about five miles from DC’s center. My other sister-in-law knitted half a dozen hats for us and another friend sewed a half dozen more.  A few husbands dropped us off near the march route just as the speakers started.  We could tell right away that it was going to be much, much larger than they’d anticipated. As we crossed the Potomac, the metro cars were bursting and people flowed across bridges in a stream of pink hats and signs.
We filled the space to the Washington Monument and miles around that in all directions.

The crowds were so thick that it was soon obvious that, although we were on the original march route (they changed it once they saw the crowd size), we weren’t going to get much nearer to the mall. As it was, we were about a block away from the stage – but we were on the back of the Native American Museum and they were on the front. We could see pretty well through the jumbotron, and hear the speakers who enunciated well J  There were thousands and thousands of us. And based on a photo that he posted to Twitter, Joss Whedon was right there in that throng as well.

Who comprised ‘us’ was the best part. Black, white, young, old, Hispanic, Native Americans in full gear. Even middle-aged white guys like my husband (who rocked a pink pussy hat proudly).  All of America.
Mike and his little sister, Chrissy.

Everyone was fantastically friendly. I met people from Alaska, Germany, Texas, South Carolina, California – you name it. They were all exceptionally kind as well. Sharing food, helping others. The experience was inspiring. Life-changing. WE THE PEOPLE coming together, united.  Against hate.

The against hate was the most beautiful part of it for me. When the march began and the crowd passed the Westboro Baptist demonstration, since their signs targeted black lives matter, the crowd began chanting “Black lives matter” and “They bring hate, We bring love.”
If there is a culture war in this country, I can tell you which side I’m on. With pride.

Using a portapotty or eating anything you didn’t pack in with you was out of the question. We started hiking out of the area at about 4:30.  As we passed a policewoman, she said, “Thank you.” I was surprised to see her looking directly at me. I felt very awkward and mumbled something like, “Oh, sure.”  She said, “No, I mean it. I’ve worked a lot of protests and events and I haven’t seen anything like this. You were the nicest group I’ve ever seen.”

I have had a hard time removing my pink hat. It’s my most cherished piece of clothing. I wore it in rural Winchester Virginia the next day and caught the stink eye from a woman in a diner.  I wore it for all of our 14-hour trip back home.  And dotted through the terminals and planes were my sisters. College students, grammas.  We wave and smile. Sometimes exchange emails or join each other for a meal.  And we’d say some variation of, “This isn’t a moment. It’s a movement.”

Damn right it is.  We the people are bigger than wanna-be tyrants. We have all the good things on our side.  We have right, we have love and we have each other. We totally got this.