Tomorrow morning, I am boarding a bus to D.C. to march, along with my daughter, countless friends and thousands upon thousands of other women.
I want my daughter to know, that she and countless others WILL not lose any rights if I have anything to do with it. I want her to know, it’s NOT okay to bully. That this climate of fear our new president spoke of is NOT our reality. That education, civil rights, healthcare, clean air and water and free speech are in fact, for all and part of our unalienable rights as Americans. That decency, politeness and caring for your fellow human beings is what we should expect from each and every one of us. This is #whyimarch.
Not 10 minutes after posting this on Facebook Friday night, there was a text from our girl, asking us to come pick her up at the CHS basketball game because she wasn’t feeling well. It wasn’t too long after that that the stomach bug made it’s appearance in our home. After sitting up most of the night with her, I debated going myself. What if I came down with it while there? She clearly wasn’t up for going and I admit, I felt a wee bit guilty leaving her home sick, with her dad, on his birthday, while I went to DC. Thankfully, I didn’t let that guilt nor lack of sleep nor chances of coming down with said bug hold me back.
As it turns out though, I DID come down with the stomach bug, right there in the middle of the crowd on the National Mall, right about 1 pm. Thankfully, it was brief – there was no moving at that point, so I just leaned over and quietly left all my feelings on the Trump presidency on the mall. If ever you find yourself in a crowd that size and you need to make a little space, it’s definitely one way to go about it.
I did not hurl the rest of the day. Not eating probably helped with that, but I was relieved I did not have it as badly as my poor girl at home. I cleaned myself up (Thanks for letting me use your hat Cynthia!) and kept going. And before anyone starts giving me head pats for marching on, what other choice did I have? I mean really. I had ridden a bus there, then walked several miles to get where I was. I was in such a big crowd, I could barely move – I couldn’t even move out of the way to puke! There was no alternative but to keep going. Although to be fair, this probably will no doubt go down under things that prove I’m a stubborn, strong willed #nastywoman. As if there was any doubt.
I rode up on buses my friend Gail of Caromont Farm chartered. My friend Lynette of Family Ties & Pies made hats for everyone along with a beautiful letter she wanted shared with the buses. As captain of my bus (I’m not at all sure how that happened either really, I just walked up to Gail Saturday morning when I arrived and she said, “hey, can you get on that bus and be captain?”), I passed it around so that it was read by all, then carried it with me all day. I wrote to Penzey’s spices and told them why I was marching and they sent me a box of 60 Kind pins that I shared with my bus as well as their letter, also carried with me. I carried the leftover hats and pins with me the rest of the day, doling them as I went. I carried a sign my friend Mary made, but since Edie wasn’t there with me, I shared my extra with my seat mate on the bus. Sharing seemed to be the order of the day, for I was offered things in return – the only one of which I accepted was a pin that read “There is no “them.” It’s all us!”.
It was amazing to be in a crowd of like minded people, where everyone felt free to express their opinion and no one shouted them down, calling them names. No one was a ‘libtard’ or a ‘snowflake’ (although I did see a few snowflake signs). Everyone was kind – walking back to where our bus was parked at RFK stadium after the march, residents along the route were set up, handing out cups of water. A church along the way had members outside inviting people in to use their facilities for anything they needed. And the cops! I’m not sure there wasn’t a cop we encountered on that walk back that didn’t thank us for coming. It was a day that fully restored my faith in humanity as well as my fellow Americans.
As we set out to the rally from our bus at RFK, I decided to use the back side of my poster, along with my camera, as my record of the day. And so, as we moved through the streets of our nation’s capital, I wrote down the places we saw represented. It became a walking, talking version of license plate bingo for our merry little crew of protesters. Kansas, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania (I saw a bus from York!), Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, California, Maine, Connecticut, Ohio, Vermont, Alabama, New York, Canada (!!), Georgia, Dominican Republic (!), Tennessee, Illinois, Alaska, New Hampshire, Oregon, Kentucky, Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts and South Carolina. Counting our contingent, that was 29 states and 2 countries we saw being represented. Not too shabby!
The signs, which were plentiful, ran the gambit from made out of a pizza box, to professionally printed. And the hats! So many version of the pussy hats! (I myself ended up wearing two over the course of the day thanks to my little spillage on the mall as well as the generosity of Lynette.)
There were woman, there were men, there were children, little old ladies and teenagers. I saw a remarkable number of people in wheelchairs and with walkers – which was inspirational to say the least. There were people of all shapes and sizes, color and at least one woman so pregnant, I’d be surprised if she didn’t deliver that baby somewhere along the route. Seriously.
We never got close enough to hear any of the speakers – we were about two blocks back from the Jumbotron, so we could sort of see them through the signs. I’ve heard that there was no march because the route was filled with attendees, but I can assure you, we marched. We marched right down Pennsylvania Avenue and thanks to photos on my social media feeds, I know they made it to the White House. Our group took a much needed break on the stands set up on Pennsylvania Ave. for the previous day inauguration parade, which were not quite packed, but definitely well used and visibly more so from photos of the day before.
On our way in, we came across this fellow, handing out fill in the blank buttons about what ‘is not normal’. Mine? None of this is normal. Because let’s face it, it’s not.
Walking back to the buses, we overheard some great conversations, with two quotes being deemed ‘the best’ and written down on my sign as our take aways of the day.
“I smelled a lot of pot today, but overall, it was a relatively sober event.” – Indeed. We all attested to that.
Overheard, after a mother asked her 10 year old son what he had learned that day, “I learned a lot of synonyms for vagina”.
Of course, it’s great to make a hat, make a sign and then go protest, but the real work starts today. I listened to some thoughtful conversations on the bus ride home last night about how to go about fixing some of these problems that got us into this mess. We have a lot of work to do and it’s going to take all of us. It’s also going to take some patience and kindness, but judging from what I saw yesterday, I would say, we’ve got that. Now to get to work.