This is for the friends who called Sunday and said, “Tell me everything.”
And you, Catherine.
photo by Catherine Sebastian
I’ll leave “everything” to others – much is already written about Saturday’s Women’s March in DC. This is my tale.
None of us knew how big this might be when we boarded our two buses at 2 am in Woodstock; hopeful, happy, determined. We gave our bus driver, David, his very own pussy hat.
My traveling buddy was Catherine Sebastian. She’s a photographer and veteran climate activist. She bought two tickets from the get-go, knowing someone would want the other one; that’s who she is. I’m her someone.
Our first inkling of crowd size hit as we pulled into our first destination, the parking lot for the metro station.
A murmured wave of “Holy shit” spread through the bus when we saw the lines to board the metro. The first thing that struck me, as we hopped out and found our spot in line: no one was complaining. We smiled and made room for each other. Imagine that happening from now on, every time people stand in line. Yo ho.
When we stepped off the train at our stop, Archives, we became THE CROWD.
We were a hum of drumming, clapping, singing folk and, oh my gosh, signs. We were all colors, shapes and sizes. Moms, dads, grandfathers, grandmothers, kids of all ages, nuns, priests, wheelchairs, dogs, (yep), police, Veterans, women in beautiful hijabs topped with pink hats, superheroes draped in American flags and rainbow capes, queens in crowns and Princess Leias in white robes.
Up we went.
photo by Catherine Sebastian
I took Catherine’s arm and sang, “Somethin’s happenin here…”
She answered, “What it is, ain’t exactly clear…”
And we both kept snapping photos.
I felt safe. DC’s finest were wearing pussy hats, for crissakes.
The white-grey sky cast its light over leafless trees: a perfect backdrop for the pink tsunami of us, taking shape in the streets.
We headed to where the stage was set up.
Ha! I just made that sound so easy. Let’s say we walked toward a Jumbotron on the horizon, above an ocean of words and hats.
Catching photos of signs along the way, we grabbed each other, in awe of the fantastic sights, laughing, crying tears of joy and wonder. This was for real.
And just like that, we stopped. No more moving ahead. As we stood, wondering what we should do, the crowd decided for us. There was to be no moving forward or moving back. The longer we stood, the tighter the squeeze. All prior plans, out of the question.
Catherine said, “Let’s go to the back of this,” and before I knew it, she was dragging me through spaces I’d never guessed I’d fit through. Civility reigned, and people let each other through, offering advice about where they’d just been, what the scene was like over there, back there, up there.
It took us an hour to do this. No worries, I just kept my eye on her pink hat, heh heh.
We found some breathing room at last, and heard the police decided to sort of re-shape the crowd, turning people back from heading to the stage. That was fine with us; the show was all around us. There was no time or desire to stand in one place.
Every child I saw was serene. Up on a parent’s shoulders, calmly checking out the scene, like it was nothing unusual or alarming. Or walking, some with signs. Or in a stroller, wide-eyed face topped with a tiny pink hat.
“She’s my GPS,” he said.
I took my cue from the littlest marchers. It was all good.
We’d see men; we’d thank them.
“Of course. We’re here for you!” they’d reply.
We smiled, crushing on that.
My husband was home watching it unfold on TV, and when he texted me the first photo of the crowd, it was the first time we saw what this looked like from the air.
Every time I’d show that photo to someone, same reaction: (Double take) “Oh my god! Is that us? Oh my god! Honey, look at this…”
Catherine’s husband called us with the early crowd estimate. Made us weep once again.
The impromptu march began – right from where we were standing.
We decided to head straight into it, head on. You know how normally people would frown upon such a thing? Not here. My video is below. Notice the “oh sorry” and the smiles and high fives. I stopped a lot to high five and bow to signs. You can see Catherine on the move ahead of me. There was no diabolical plan ahead of time to pass the Trump Hotel, it just happened. It’s interesting to watch the crowd’s calm, yet decisive reaction when it does.
Check out my video here.
Ok, you’ve seen the signs. They were fabulous. So creative, funny and true. Spelled correctly.
“We’re here to apologize on behalf of Ohio.”
“Introvert snowflake. Here anyway.”
photo by Catherine Sebastian
Text from my daughter:
We walked toward the White House. The plan was to leave the signs there. With an eye on the clock, we turned and made our way to the metro stop, with no idea what we’d find. We found more long lines and more camaraderie. We stood for our 45-minute ride back to the parking lot. More than once, sitting people offered their seats to people standing. What?
We poured out of the trains to load the buses, singing, “Lean on Me” and helping each other get where we had to go.
We had to climb a fence to finally get to our bus. I smiled inside on the way over, glad to be in that very spot at this very age. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, the man wrote.
We made it home, tired but peaceful.
Imagine my surprise on Sunday, to learn Trump fans were mocking us, crowing that we didn’t even know what we were marching for.
Trust us, fellas, we knew why we were marching.
I was trolled by a man on my Facebook page, (Now? After all this time? Has he met me?) suggesting it’s time to move on, and oh, it’s not healthy to be so angry.
Stop projecting, ok, darlin? And pick up the phone if you have something to say to me. Let’s talk. I’d love to tell you how this feels. And I listen.
There are two kinds of men in my life.
The kind who tell me it’ll be ok that a sexual predator has been elected president,
and the kind who call me to ask how I am, the morning after it happens.
My husband brought this when he met our bus. He’s that kind.
I marched because love must win.
But we have so much work to do.
No laurels to be rested upon.
It’s Day 4, and the shit show is as bad as we thought it’d be.
photo by Josh Edelson via Getty Images