“All the pussies are on the bus. Let’s go,” said Margaret, our supremely patient and cheerful bus captain.
And so all the pussies went to Washington. Ten buses from Ann Arbor, Michigan, alone. Fifty-five women of all ages on board each of them. Rumor has it that every coach in Michigan was rented for the weekend. (Rumor. Not fake news or alternative fact. Just something I heard. May or may not be true.)
And so it seemed. Every bus we passed was filled with pink hats, just like, I heard, were many, many flights from across the country. At every rest stop, the lines to the restrooms were long and slow, until we did the obvious and took over the men’s johns, too. (To be clear, after a startled moment, the men graciously shared. They huddled into the urinals, and the women looked the other way.)
We pulled into the enormous RFK Armory parking lot several hours late because the bus’ brakes had failed in the middle of the night. (Yes, you read that right.) The lot was butts to nuts (I heard that phrase this weekend because, well, everything was)
Even though we arrived late, there was still a river of posters and pink hats trekking the 3 miles to the National Mall. Volunteer greeters and security guard along the way gave us directions and cheered us on. Residents had put inspiring quotes from Martin Luther King on the lawns. After a slightly harrowing trip, this was a welcome relief.
In an effort to find a less-traveled route, my daughter made the score of the day: A clean, warm and empty restroom in a church! You do not know what this means until you have seen lines many people deep waiting for porta-johns after traveling all night on a bus.
(A note about the porta-johns. I had read that for the inauguration, the name of the company that provided them had been taped over. Apparently, Don’s Johns just too indelicate for our new Commander-in-Chief. They were, notably, not taped over for the march.)
The National Mall was a sea of people that overflowed onto the streets nearby. Once you waded in, thinking you could get somewhere, it became impossible to move. Many speakers were scheduled, but we couldn’t tell where. (Later we discovered that we were right next to the stage.)
We spent the next few hours randomly pushing through the crowd then moving to the periphery for a break. We were waiting for the march. We knew the route, but we began to realize that getting this many people to move in one direction would take hours. Eventually, we just left the crowd and connected with my niece and sister-in-law closer to the White House where the march ended.
Here’s what was uplifting about the experience:
- Everyone was upbeat and civil. (Okay, maybe Madonna wasn’t civil, from what I hear, but the marchers were.) This was more like a huge pep rally, a vast umbrella of cheerful people comforting each other.
- Many viewpoints were represented. There were posters for every issue that people care about and are afraid will be lost: healthcare, environmental protection, civil/women’s rights. And a bunch of people who just oppose Trump’s behavior. There were a ton of posters about pussies and also about love and peace: the Love Trumps Hate theme was alive and well.
- Those viewpoints were expressed with incredible creativity and humor. If you do nothing else find images of the posters. Here and here.
- Yes. There were a lot of white women. Also men. A respectable sprinkling of African Americans, who were the single solid voting bloc against Trump. Not many Muslims or other obvious ethnicities. Some critics mentioned that it was all middle-aged white women. It wasn’t. Every age was there–a lot of younger people, some families, men. I will say, however, that a majority of women gives a march a gentler tone. It was, overall, an energizing, hopeful vibe.
- This isn’t a movement. It was never meant to be a movement. It was a phenomenon. It was one, amazing, glorious, global day of coming together. That’s what I heard and felt–a vast network of resistance. All these people from all over the world were willing to brave cold and rain, to ride all night on buses, train, planes, and automobiles to express their disgust, dissent, and opposition–cheerfully, humorously, politely, but overwhelmingly. So maybe there’s hope after all.
It wasn’t until I went by the Trump Hotel, located in the Old Post Office a couple blocks from the White House. (Where there was a LOT of security, believe me), and saw that people were laying their posters all around the security fence, like a gesture of hope, that I got choked up. This silent but evocative offering at the end of a long day.
This day changes nothing. Mr. Trump was busy on Monday signing executive orders and meeting with business leaders. I’m sure he feels productive. But I hope–and trust–that enough of us are energized, and watching, and making calls, and organizing, to put a niggling tingle of unease into the hearts of the power brokers who would ignore the voice of the plurality. Who would dismantle the EPA and environmental progress; who would empower racism and white supremacy; who would feast with the rich and powerful while appeasing working people with crumbs.
I’m not expecting miracles, but I am pulling on my big-girl pants. I’ve been volunteering with NextGen Climate, and I’ve found it to be a great group. Liberal but realistic. And they never ask for money. I think working at the state level results in a bigger bang for the buck. The Indivisible Guide is a really helpful piece of organizing wisdom.
And that’s all I got. Except for faith and prayer. And the constant reminder from the universe not to succumb to fear, hate, passivity, or cynicism. God is love.
Here’s some sign power of my own:
And finally–my daughter and me! Awesome weekend with you, honey!