This past weekend, my friend Dee and I took a 12-hour bus ride from Boston to DC. If you’ve never taken a 12-hour bus ride, here’s my best advice about it: don’t. It’s a little like being held hostage: you’re trapped in a small space, there’s a smelly toilet in your cell, and you never know when your next meal will be.
That being said, the bus ride down was my first taste of the special kind of magic that occurs when a bunch of like-minded, passionate women gather together.
Here are nine moments that gave me what the kids call “all the feels” during and around the DC Women’s March. They’re the moments that gave me that weird feeling where you’re not crying but feel that the slightest thing – talking, blinking, a hug – will unleash the waterworks. I believe Linda Richman called it being “verklempt.” Pass the butter, talk amongst yourselves.
1. The Bus Ride or as I dubbed it on Instagram, the #bustotherevolution (Ed note: that’s “bus to the revolution” not “bust ‘o the revolution,” but whatever works.)
Imagine 12 rows of bus seats, where about 2 in 3 people have a pink “pussy” hat on. It was like riding to summer camp the first time. We knew we were all about to do something very exciting. I sat up front amongst a group of women in their 60’s/70’s, who were all extremely friendly and chatty. There was a lone man within our section, about 25 years old. “You’ll have a good time if you just keep your mouth shut,” one of the older women advised him. He laughed and we all laughed with him. Come to think of it, he was pretty quiet after that.
2. The Metro Ride to the March
You’ve probably heard about the DC metro. It was packed to the gills. I was marching with my good friend Cindy and her mom, Mrs. B, and we had to wait two trains before we could finally squish onto one. The energy on the metro was incredible. We were all squished in like sardines, but still cheering at every stop to welcome the next group on. We’d all get excited when someone was getting off, in the hopes that there’d be a little more breathing room. At one stop, one woman got off and two somehow squished on. “Two for one!” a man yelled, and we all laughed and cheered, even though in retrospect, that’s not even that funny.
3. The Crowds
Cindy and I didn’t really know what to expect, but whatever we expected, the crowds were at least ten times bigger. There were several times when it was so crowded, you couldn’t help but push the person in front of you. Your feet had to shuffle forward or you would get trampled. But everyone was so ridiculously nice and polite about it, it was almost comical. It’s how I imagine British people would be in a stampede but without the accents. “Oh, sorry!” “I’m not trying to push you, I promise.” “Cheerio, do go first.” (I may have made up that last one.)
4. My Companions
I’m so grateful that I got to march with someone I love, Cindy, and someone she loves, her mom. The sweetest thing was that they held hands much of the time, mainly because the crowds were so big and Mrs. B is not an aggressive crowd-maneuverer, so we were worried we’d get separated.
5. The Signs
Oh my god the signs!I thought my signs were pretty awesome; I was conscience of not making them specifically about Trump, but about protecting women’s rights. If advertising has taught me anything, it’s the importance of staying on message. (Also, always try to get there early for the free conference room food, but that doesn’t apply here.) But these signs were tremendous. These were the best signs. Everyone agrees. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
6. The chanting and singing
I’ve seen videos of my parents’ era’s protests, like Woodstock, and there was a lot of chanting and singing. This was my first protest, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I definitely didn’t expect to be doing so much chanting. A few of my favorites, “This is what democracy looks like!” (and you have to imagine people of every color, gender, sexual orientation and age chanting this together), “No hate! No fear! Everyone is welcome here!” and Cindy’s favorite, “We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter!”. At one point, we ended up near a couple of roaming troubadours who were playing guitars and singing, “This Land is Your Land”. We joined in. I sang until I got to verklempt to continue.
7. The littlest protesters
Some very brave parents brought their kids. And some very brave kids accompanied their parents. I loved hearing a 10-year old boy chant, “Her body, her choice!” next to his mom. We met a fellow Dartmouth alum, pushing her 3-year old in a stroller. He had a sign with his own train drawing on it that read, “All aboard the kindness train!” This one kid in a pink suit with pink sneakers was just crushing it. There was a little girl dressed as Lady Liberty, but she was like a rock star, so I couldn’t get close enough to ask her if I could take her picture .One little girl aptly described the scene this way, “This is chaos madness!” but in an appreciative way.
8. The Oldies
I have a soft spot in my heart for old people. Let’s face it, old people are awesome. And if we’re lucky, we’ll all be old people someday, so it seems like a good idea to give them our respect. Cindy and I both teared up at an old woman in a wheelchair with a sign that said, “86 years old and still ready to take a stand.” Respect, lady.
9. The Hope
We recently watched the first six Star Wars movies with our kids; then Matty and I went and saw Rogue One, and this quote struck me, “Rebellions are built on hope.” Like many people, I’d been feeling a little low on hope lately. Almost 63 million people voted for Trump. Whatever their reasons, they voted for someone who’s been blatantly racist, misogynist, and xenophobic, and repeatedly lied to our faces. To me, that was incredibly disheartening. I’m genuinely flabbergasted by people who don’t get the opposition to Trump.
But to see millions of women around the world, plus hundreds of thousands right by my side, standing up for equality and human rights was the giant hope injection I needed. I’ll sum it up with another Star Wars-esque quote, “Respect our existence or expect our resistance.”
Did you march? What was your favorite part?
Are you mad at the marchers? Tell me what you like about Trump, but without using any comparisons to Hillary. I’d genuinely be interested in knowing.