Women’s March on Washington

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I needed to do something. I mean we had just elected a man who bragged about molesting women, made fun of a disabled guy, called Mexicans rapists and murderers, suggested we have an Islamic registry, encouraged fans at his rally to punch someone out and  insisted our President wasn’t a citizen. When the Women’s March was still in its infancy, Martha and I booked our flights on Southwest and started looking for a place to sleep.

As the day got closer I had second thoughts.  There was going to be a march in Sarasota. It would be so much easier to stay home and march there. But, really, there wasn’t a good reason NOT to go and so many good reasons to get on that plane.

Be brave, I muttered to myself.  You can figure out the Metro system.  You’ve done it before.  The key is to make sure you get on the right color train going in the right direction.  And you can find your way around DC.  You have a map and an Uber app on the phone.  And you can figure out how to get from the train to Jim’s house.  As long as there are bathrooms in strategic places, this will work.

At the gate in TPA

At the gate in TPA

In London, not us

In London, not us

It never occurred to me that our flight would be full of other marchers.  Of course it was. And as we sat at the gate and looked around, it suddenly dawned on me that all the women sitting there were heading to DC for the same reason. I started spotting pink pussy hats and Martha and I put ours on. Martha had made ten and given most of them away in Venice.  We boarded and shortly after takeoff, the flight attendant took our picture with on of the women’s iPhones.

I want that picture, I shouted.

On the plane

On the plane

I’ll airdrop it to everyone, she yelled back

Technology. I can do airdrop on my Mac but never did it with my phone. I learned fast. After the march we airdropped all my photos to Martha’s iPad.

It was the happiest flight I think I’ve ever been on. The girl sitting next to me was traveling alone.

I started grilling her.  Are you meeting people in DC?  Do you have a place to stay? Because if you don’t, you can come with us.  Do I sound like your grandmother?

She laughed.  I’m all set and actually you sound like my mom.

On the Metro..FOUR women...middle girl was pregnant

On the Metro..FOUR women…middle girl was pregnant

The metro from the airport  into DC was jam packed with pink hatted women from all over the country. We talked to women from SAN Francisco (Martha gave them hats) who told us there was only one guy on their entire plane. The ones from Portland, Oregon had a plane full of marchers. And one Southwest plane turned the lights pink.  Everyone was smiling, laughing, swapping stories.

We stayed at Jim and Joey’s house in DC, a few blocks from the Metro, an easy ride from the airport. They had left town for a mini vacation so we had the place to ourselves.  How lucky could we get?

As walked toward the metro the next morning, you could feel the energy…women carrying signs, wearing pink hats, coming out of house, coming from all side streets, converging on the metro station, smiling, laughing, carrying clear backpacks and totes.

Hurry up, yelled of of the Metro guards, opening the big gate.  The train is coming.  Don’t bother with your cards.

We poured through the gate and squeezed into a train car that was already pretty crowded. As we got closer to L’Enfant Plaza, it got rather squishy.   But no one pushed. No one even frowned. And if you bumped into anyone you apologized profusely.  And unlike other rides on other days on trains in big cities, it was noisy.

Where are you from?  Was your plane all marchers? Do you know where we go when we get off? Where are you staying?  I love your sign.  Isn’t this fabulous?

We found the Florida group, started gabbing with a woman from Miami who had traveled to Orlando to get the last seat on one of the buses heading to DC.

Walked with them for a bit

Walked with them for a bit

I didn’t move fast enough to get a seat on a bus from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, she said. So I called around till I found a seat. I had to get here.  (Brave woman.  I wouldn’t have wanted to come alone)

We lost the Florida crew when we got near the mall and I saw the porta potties. (Don’s Johns…really, that’s what they said) It was early and the lines weren’t ridiculous

Stop! I told Martha.

All the lists of what to do said never pass a short potty line.  (The list also had said bring protein bars and water bottles, a poncho, cell phone charger, gloves, a bandana in  case of tear gas.) I read everything, as you know.

But I don’t have to go, Martha objected.

Just try, I said, getting in line.

By the time we got out we’d lost the Florida group and had no clue where to go.

The crowd was getting bigger and bigger.  People were cheerful and friendly but we were getting jammed in.

Where should we go?  I asked Martha. One thing I read was that you were safer on the edge of the crowd

We started following a river of people heading for a street, hoping to get to the edge of the crowd

We didn’t hear the speeches.  We didn’t see Madonna and Michael Moore and everyone else. We did see them on YouTube that evening.  At first I felt badly that we missed them,  it but  then I talked to people who DID get to them…three hours worth and no way to get out of the crowd.  Instead we followed rivers of people trying to get somewhere.  No one knew which way to go but we kept going. We decided we had a better time marching, looking at signs and talking to people. The sign, by the way, were spectacular.  Here are a few.

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We met two guys from San Francisco who had bought plane tickets and booked a hotel ages ago expecting to go to Hillary’s inauguration.  They came anyway, did some tourist things on Friday and did the March on Saturday.  At one point we sat down on some steps outside I front of the National Gallery and met a woman who had been close enough to John Kerry to get his picture. We knew he was there, just couldn’t get through the crowd.img_5041

Could you send me a photo, I asked, and I emailed her.  She sent the pictures that evening.

Great little kid and Martha

Great little kid and Martha

We finally quit, too tired to walk another block.  We found a metro station and dragged ourselves back to Jim’s   We went to a party that evening about half mile away. Jim’s sister, Kathleen, hosted a dinner for marching friends.  We were too tired to walk. Thank God for Uber.  It cost a booming  $4.78 to get to Kathleen and Barry’s.

Good food, good company, stories about people everyone met, lots of talk about favorite signs…One woman had us laughing all night

I hate crowds, she said.  This was my first and last march.  I’m going back to sending money

Sunday was a rainy day and we moved slowly.  Martha and imparted ways mid afternoon.  She headed to Baltimore to her son’s house and to see the most beautiful grandchild in the world (after mine, I mean)  I went into the center of DC to meet a dear friend from Massachusetts who was sticking around a couple days to go to museums and knock on doors at the congressional offices and thank them for what they are doing.

It started to pour after I left the Metro and I dug out my poncho.  As I walked down to the Museum of African American History I passed the new Trump hotel.  There were a few signs on the sidewalk.  There,had been hundreds there the day before.  And one lone protester standing in the rain holding a sign saying, “No Mandate.”

Outside Trump Hotel

Outside Trump Hotel

Thanks for doing this, I called as I passed him.

You’re welcome, he said.  And I kept moving eager to see Pixie.

Pixie and I met during another protest against high stakes testing way back in 2000.  And it was so good to see her again on Sunday and meet her friend, Susan.  One of my regrets about the weekend was that I couldn’t figure out how to connect with people I knew were there…my niece, Kathy and her husband, friends and former students…most of them were heading home at the end of the march and there simply wasn’t a way to find them.  So connecting with Pixie was special.  We found a great Greek restaurant and went our separate ways after dinner, me back to Jim’s and them to a friend’s house in Arlington.

Mary, Pixie and Susan the day after

Mary, Pixie and Susan the day after

I left Jim’s at 3:45 AM to go to the airport.  Don’t remember who told I could prebook Uber but thank you.  And now, Jerry and I are at Erin’s soaking in the energy and pure beauty of three little kids.  Ahh, life is so very good.

Final thoughts…

First, I know I have friends who voted for Donald Trump and truly believe he will do his level best to move our country forward.  I hope they can continue to be my friends even though we are very far apart politically.  Who said, “I disagree with every word you say but I would defend to my death your right to say them.”?  Know that I do not hate Donald Trump.  On the contrary, I pray for the guy every day.

Next, I cannot say enough about the energy of the marchers, their courtesy, their good humor, their patience, their willingness to “go with the flow”, to live with the confusion and uncertainty of not knowing where we were supposed to be or what we were supposed to do. The particular group Martha and I were with did end up marching, all going in the same direction toward the White House and that was quite satisfying. But wandering around on the Mall near the Washington Monument was fine too.

Next, the police and workers at the metro, in the shops and restaurants, the Uber drivers…everyone…they couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful  and everywhere we turned, people were thanking us for coming and marching.  And we were thanking them for putting up with us.

And finally, my personal thanks…to Jerry, for assuring me he could manage just fine without me; to Ernie, for driving us to the airport; to Jim and Joey for sharing your home so graciously; to Kathleen for adding us to her dinner guest list for Saturday night and most of all, to Martha, my dear friend, who was the best traveling companion a woman could have (and for my pink hat!)

Jerry and I head to Houston next week for my checkup and then home for our next adventure…Jerry is having heart bypass surgery on February 9.  Send your prayers and positive energy.  Life certainly isn’t boring.

Below…one final favorite sign…

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21 thoughts on “Women’s March on Washington

  1. Right back at you, Mary! It was probably one of the most memorable times of my life and I am so glad I shared it with you! Now let the real work begin…I hope we are able to stop in their tracks parts of this new administration’s agenda. It is already looking pretty bleak!
    Enjoy your time in Dallas with those adorable kids!

  2. Wow, Mary! You did it all for me in this post: tears, laughter, and regret at not having been able to attend the march. But you gave me the feeling I was there. Thank you!

  3. Michael and Carol Malott

    Thank you so much, Mary! I felt bad not taking part, but I am beyond happy that you did it and shared it with us through your stories and photos. Stay strong, and prayers for you and Jerry.
    Carol

  4. So proud of you. I had nieces at Boston and Chicago marches. Glad to live the exierience through you

  5. Amazing recount by an amazing woman. Love both Martha & you.

  6. Proud of you and proud of all the marchers. You rock!

  7. Kudos to you my friend..,I am so proud of you! You’re a braver woman than I! After reading your blog it’s evident that you really had a great time…meeting many women there for the same great cause! It had to be exhilirating to just be there! The signs are terrific! I feel the same way about friends that voted for Trump, and there are many including my best friend! You must or should have a wonderful feeling of satisfaction…you did good girlfriend! Now on to Texas….have a wonderful visit with the kids! I am surprised to learn that Jerry’s having the surgery…I thought and prayed it wouldn’t be necessary! Love you, Pam

  8. Sounds incredible and wonderful and it was here too—so exciting—people jumping out of hosues waving signs for the New Smyrna Beach March, cars stopping in the middle of the road to get a sign, neighbors finding neighbors to get the latest news. What an energy! And to get home and watch all the news of marches literally all over the world—what a brave new women’s world we are entering!! Love the image of every plane being filled with marchers. Go Mary!! And everybody!!

  9. It was a very special experience that I will savor for a long time, made more special by spending quality time with you down there. How wonderful was that!!!

  10. Deirdre Christman

    So glad you and Martha got to be part of this historic event! As always, your blog made me feel I loved it with you. Our Sarasota march was exhilarating too, though not as momentous.

    Now the real work begins. Last night, following Norma’s email about the new Stand Your Ground bill, I emailed a bunch of our representatives. All I can say is Bring it On! We women will show the men in power what we’re made of. They should be quaking in their $1000 shoes

  11. Janet walker-aronson

    Mary- thank you for sharing your adventure. Godspeed to Jerry.

  12. Thanks for sharing this Mary. It makes me wish I had gone as well. Jerry will be in my thoughts for a successful operation & speedy recovery.

  13. Mary, I loved every bit of what you wrote. I think it gives me hope! You are an amazing person who has always stuck up for what is right! I cannot wait to share this with my daughter Kate! She did great in Boston Saturday and I know she will love to read your words! I told her when you were on the plane and on your way!

  14. Thanks Mary. I’m proud of you, and you made the march seem very real to me. (Is that a stupid sentence?). Loved the signs!

  15. Love these pictures and signs! You are an inspiration my friend! You are woman hear you roar!! ❤

  16. SORRY MARY, I TOTALLY DISAGREE AND TRUMP DID NOT SAY HALF OF WHAT YOU CLAIMED HE SAID. REMEMBER THE FAKE NEWS. LOOK AT ALL HE IS DOING FOR THE PEOPLE! ALL THE PEOPLE!!! AND WOULD YOU HAVE WISHED HILLARY IN WHO HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN ALL THE CROOKED DEALS REGARDLESS OF THE COST? IT IS A REAL SHAME THEY DON’T SEE IT. MAYBE WHEN IT HITS THEIR POCKETBOOKS THEY WILL. HE WILL MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD AS OBAMA DID NOTHING FOR US BUT GET US DEEPER IN DEBT AND CLINTON DIDN’T EVEN TAKE CARE OF OUR MEN ABROAD. PEOPLE WERE AFRAID TO EVEN SAY “MERRY CHRISTMAS” WHEN OBAMA WAS IN AND NOW THIS PAST CHRISTMAS EVERYONE WAS SAYING IT.

    TRUMP HAS ALREADY DONE MORE IN 1 DAY THAN OBAMA DID IN 8 YEARS!
    VERY SAD. I AM FOR THE PEOPLE NOT THE PARTY. AND FOR THE ONE WHO STANDS FOR CHRISTIAN BELIEFS ABOVE ALL.

  17. From Wikipedia: Evelyn Beatrice Hall (28 September 1868 – 13 April 1956), who wrote under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre, was an English writer best known for her biography of Voltaire entitled The Life of Voltaire, first published in 1903. She also wrote The Friends of Voltaire, which she completed in 1906.
    In The Friends of Voltaire, Hall wrote the phrase: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (which is often misattributed to Voltaire himself) as an illustration of Voltaire’s beliefs. Hall’s quotation is often cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.
    * * * *
    MARY – I enjoyed reading your account of the march experience; thanks so much for marching and reporting! On that day, the world was alive with camaraderie, compassion, integrity, and ethical values. (I spent the day writing “The ABCs of DJT” which begins: Abomination, Bully, Crude, Dishonorable, Evil-Minded, Fibber, Grabber etc…you get the idea. My favorite letter was X for Xenophobe. Let me know if you want to see the entire alphabet.) GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR CHECK UP, AND ALSO WITH JERRY’S SURGERY. XXOO, Nina

  18. Although we couldn’t connect in D.C., I felt your presence knowing we were on parallel journeys. It was the most amazing experience to be amongst so many like-minded people expressing a deep belief in human rights for ALL. Our friendship gives me courage because you are someone I have the deepest respect for. So glad you are my friend.

    I am sending more positive energy and hope for Jerry’s upcoming surgery. We are all with you both and believe our collective love will bring Jerry safely through his surgery and stronger for years to come.

  19. Thanks Mary and Martha for marching in DC, and for writing this blog. This brought tears to my eyes, as did seeing the throngs of women in Sarasota when we marched there. You were part of a historic event and I appreciate the trouble you took to go to DC.

    Mary

  20. Wendie Highsmith

    Mary-It was an extraordinary event!! There aren’t adequate words. I felt like I was on a pilgrimage of deviance. Such great energy and focus and inspiration, and diversity and hospitality and…You know what I mean.

    Wendie

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