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