2017-1-21-womens-march-on-washington-lh-385Who?

Linda and Miranda

What?

Women’s March on Washington

When?

January 21, 2017

5:00 woke up

5:20 departed

7:00 arrived Vienna metro

plenty of parking, got right on train

people in train handing out pink pussy hats

got seats

8:00 arrived at L’Enfant Plaza, found a bathroom, walked to Mall and then towards Capitol. Crossed over at 4th and inched our way into the crowd.

9:00 in our spot—middle of intersection of 4th and Independence. We would stand there for five hours. Our only food was two granola bars each. No fluids. No bathroom.

2:00 Why wasn’t the rally over? We wanted to march, get food, sit down. Decided we would walk up Independence. (We later learned that the crowds filled the entire march route, so organizers rerouted/canceled the march part.)

3:00 Madonna appears. We are still trying to get out of the crush.

We listen while inching along Independence. More and more people are flowing in our direction.

3:20 We’ve broken out and are on our way to L’Enfant Plaza Metro. The entrance to the station is closed and we wander, looking for the other entrance, then join the crush walking down the escalator.

3:30 Amazingly we get right on the train with seats.

5:00 dinner at El Tio in Gainesville. First time in a bathroom since 8:00 a.m.

7:20: home.

Why?

Needed to know how to go forward, what to do. Not content with being just another white woman with the privilege of going back to my coffee-drinking, Netflix-watching, yoga-stretching, camera-clicking, computer-staring life. The whole election process was painful—I was obsessed with 528 projections for months before November 8. November 9 brought separate texts from each of my three girls that said, “I’m scared.” Those fears made me cry.

I wanted to shut off the news, disengage from my role as a citizen. And really, I sort of did. I reduced my news consumption, ignored the revolting, nauseous pronouncements from the president elect, and felt completely alienated from politics. I hid “friends” from my social media feeds who disagreed. Maybe politics was just a reality show I didn’t have to watch—tons of people don’t pay any attention, so why was I? Most things I deplore I have the freedom of ignoring. Maybe if I ignored this clownish, hideous, crass person now installed in my White House, he’d go away, or at least he’d disappear from view.

But I wasn’t sure. Some people can’t just ignore this spectacle. Whether they pay attention to it or not, there will be consequences. They are going to lose access to health care. They are going to be deported. They are going to lose the chance to become residents and citizens of the United States. They will go to war or lose friends and family members who do.  Their planet will be less habitable. They risk losing freedoms like marriage and reproductive control over their bodies.

But what to do?

I went to the march to find out.

I listened to every speaker for five hours, standing in one spot for four of those, babystepping my escape through a throng for one of them. By the end, the speeches sounded the same: My foremothers suffered and fought, LGBTQIA (what’s the I for?), climate change, Muslims, disabled people. One called for a black trans woman to be president. One WAS a black trans woman. There were celebrities and representatives from so many minorities —Muslims, Native Americans, a senator (I’m keeping an eye on her—Kamala Harris of California. I’m apparently not the first to suggest that she should be our next president.), the press, Jews, lesbians, rappers, actresses, Madonna, Gloria Steinem, Planned Parenthood, Naral, a little girl, an undocumented immigrant.

These were niche speakers, but they shared one message: An informed citizenry that acts makes a difference. That is the message I went there for.

Turns out the one white man who spoke at the rally gave me some very specific answers. Michael Moore, after ripping up the front page of the Washington Post, offered a to-do list and a phone number. “On Monday, call (202) 225-3121. Call your representative and your two Senators, and number one we do not accept Betty DeVos as our secretary of education. That’s day one. Make it part of your daily routine.” Sadly, he was interrupted on stage by Ashley Judd (according to my handy Wiki-Miranda-pedia, on whom I had to rely for information as there was zero internet at my location, Ashley Judd is a famous actress) and his mic turned off.

So I’m resolving to make calls to my congressmember and senators. And I’m going to stay informed by reading the whole paper, not just skipping to my favorite advice columnists.

Yesterday, I was part of a half-million strong crowd of people whose lives seem to them as rich and vivid as mine seems to me. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder for hours, and belly-to-back whenever an ambulance and its attending black SUV needed to squeeze through (Why? Were these really motorcades with celebs inside using ambulances as cover?) I went there to learn something and to teach something. I came home with indigestion, sore feet, an aching back, a sense of shame for even noticing these little pains and being so soft, and some resolve. Maybe by being there, I was a teeny part of history. Or at least, maybe I was inspired to become one.

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