What a weekend. So many emotions I hardly know where to start. I guess I’ll take Maria’s advice from The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start” and this story starts 15 years ago.
When I was pregnant with Katy I joined the pregnancy forum on the About.Com platform. I met some really neat women there — Gretchen, Stella and Nipuna for three of them. After Katy was born, I migrated over to Parenting Babies and Toddlers and picked up a few new friends, Marianne was one (even though she wouldn’t have a baby or toddler for several years she wanted to know what to expect). Then as our babies and toddlers grew into pre-schoolers there was no forum for that age so in 2005 we started our own forum on About’s sister platform, Delphi, and called it About to Crack, because, frankly, we were all about to. It was for “parenting and other incidentals of life”. More and more people trickled in and over the years we’ve formed a community. We’ve been through birth and potty training and the first day of school. There have been marriages and divorces and remarriages, illnesses ranging from colds to cancer. And sadly, the deaths of two children. And lots and lots of recipes. Well, after all that, it’s kind of fun to meet up in person and what better time or place than a women’s march? This actually wasn’t the first gathering, about seven of our members were able to attend and help out with one member’s daughter’s memorial service after she died from a fierce battle with cancer. Did I mention we’re a community?
So the Women’s March on Washington started taking shape and one of our members, Ruthe, lives in Virginia. I guess it was her idea, I wasn’t in on the beginning stages, to attend the march together and meet up at her house. At first I just didn’t see how I could possibly go, I wasn’t real sure about flying and trying to meet up with everyone and the logistics so I sent my regrets. Well, Molly who is a forum member, lives nearby and we’ve met briefly a couple of times over the years so she said “roadtrip?”. She was driving up with two of her three daughters. So in the end we spent lots of time together. We left Thursday evening and spent the night in Charlotte, shared an Air B&B for two nights in Virginia, attended the rally and march together and drove home Sunday. We’re big friends now! And her two, Lila (11) and Nellie (nine), and Katy all got along well. I think Lila and Nellie enjoyed hanging out with a teenager.
So we got to Manasses, Va., early Friday evening, checked into the room and texted Ruthe to say we were in town. Ruthe’s reply was “chili’s on the stove”. So we headed over there for dinner after a grocery store run for salad fixings. Ruthe had two forum members staying with her so it was a nice evening with good friends and good food.
The next morning we were up at six, out the door at seven and on the train by eight, I guess. In the train station with the masses of people I turned to the lady beside me and said “This is definitely a once-in-lifetime experience. I’m never doing this again.” She laughed. The train ride was great, everyone was so excited and comparing hats and signs and talking about where they came from. People were writing positive notes on scraps of paper and passing them around the train. We had a spare piece of blank poster board and passed it around for people to sign.
We had all planned to meet up at the sculpture garden near the march area and attend together. Well, you can imagine how well that worked out. No one met anyone so we spent the day keeping in touch by text. Everyone was with someone, though, a couple of women had their husbands and some of them had paired up to share hotel rooms and attended together so I don’t think anyone was walking around alone.
The march. What to say about the march. It was all those cliche words — affirming, uplifting, empowering. Molly and I and the girls got there about 9, had breakfast at a food truck and people were really just trickling in. The whole environment was so positive. A couple of people came up, said hi to Katy and then said to me “thank you for bringing her”. Everyone was talking and cheering and you could just really feel the energy. At one point Molly said “you can feel the love”. There were a few moments when the crowd got a little crowded and someone got a little impatient but overall it was fine. I never worried for Katy’s or my safety. I was never worried about the actual march attendees, I knew it was gong to be mostly moms and kids and none of us wants any trouble with our kids around. I was more worried about counter-protesters and people out just to stir up trouble but if there was any of that, I didn’t see it.
We found a great spot where we could hear the speeches reasonably well although we couldn’t see anything. There was a t-shirt vendor behind us and kind of a gap between us and the crowd in front so we had room to wiggle a little. Molly had bought her girls some hand and feet finger puppets for Christmas and had thrown a few of them in her bag for a little diversion. So they were messing around with the little hands and when we saw a guy with a poster and just had to borrow it for a photo op. I was trying to keep our whole presence pro-women/rights/humanity and not anti-Trump (more on that later) but this was really kind of funny.
After about an hour the girls were kind of restless, although Katy was really trying to listen. We were right near the Air and Space museum so I suggested we go in there for a little break and distraction. I think we spent two hours in the museum (after we spent an hour waiting in the security line to get in) including having lunch. We relaxed and looked at a few of the exhibits.
We went up to the second floor to look at the airplanes and got a good view of the crowd. It really hit me then just how big it was.
When we went back outside the speeches were just wrapping up and people started moving for the actual march.
This person was speaking when we came out. I didn’t even know they had the Jumbo-trons. It’s hard being short in a crowd. If you know who she is, speak up. (Edited: Nipuna says it’s Angela Davis. I had to look up who she was.)
Once the actual march started things really got interesting. We spread out all over the mall and the surrounding streets. We could see everyone’s signs and there were some really clever ones.
I like these ladies who decided to combine their hats and signs into one.
I had to get this photo for Katy.
We ran into some Girl Scouts. I got this girl’s mom’s permission to take her photo and it turns out they were there with the whole troop.
This is my favorite poster picture, though.
My favorite part of the parade was watching Katy. Generally, Katy sits back and watches the goings on. She’s not normally one to step right in front and lead the charge. Saturday, she waved her sign and took part in the chants and looked so proud to be making her little statement and adding her voice to the thousands. I think I may have a little activist on my hands. She’s always supported her friends and stuck up for them and herself when they were doing their own thing that might be a little different (“Because I like wearing dresses!”) but usually in a more understated way. She really found her voice on Saturday. I did have to stop her participating in one chant. It was some anti-Trump line and she started in not really hearing clearly what the words were. I said “No, we’re not doing that. We’re here to support women and various causes. Trump is our president and we aren’t saying anything bad about him”. Once she realized, she agreed. (Added: We have said plenty of bad things about Trump in the past year but at the time I thought we should at least give him the weekend before we set in on him.)
Here’s a little video I got of her, Molly and Lila marching and chanting.
At one point we were all just kind of in a mob as we had to turn a sharp corner, which took some time and everyone kind of bunched up. Four mounted police officers were trying to make their way through the crowd. Katy was really impressed as she didn’t know there was even such a thing as a police horse.
As everyone was trying to tell people to part the crowd and make room, a voice to my right hollered “What are you doing here?” to the police. Well, at least a hundred people started clapping and cheering and yelling “thank you” to the officers. Shut that lady right up.
We managed to stick it out all the way to the end. I think the museum break really helped. If the girls had to listen to four hours of speeches they would have lost it. We finished up near the Washington Memorial and that’s where I found a Cavalier!
And this lady, too.
We decided to go ahead and head back to the train station where we had a little scare. The platform was packed and we were right at the edge when our train stopped. Nellie stepped on the packed train and the doors started to close. Molly (and I think someone on the train) pried the doors open and yanked her out. She was a little rattled. I read it was the Metro system’s second-busiest day ever. (President Obama’s first inauguration being the busiest day ever.) By that point Katy had decided she was finished with people, crowds, strangers and the day. But, we still had a party to get to!
We ran by the B&B to pick up and drop off a few things then over to Ruthe’s. By the time we got there it was pretty much wall-to-wall people and food. It was kind of surreal walking into a houseful of people you’ve never met before but knowing exactly who they were and just picking up the conversation like the old friends we are.
And our forum babies. Every one of these children (except one who is a forum-baby best friend) was born while mom was a member of one of the forums. So nice to finally meet them all person.
It was kind of an early night as everyone was tired and had long trips the next day. Sunday morning we got up at 7 and headed out by eight. We stopped at a Moe’s in North Carolina for lunch. Then we stopped at the South Carolina welcome center and a lady who had also stopped said “were you at Moe’s”? They had been to the march, too, and apparently we were following them. Marianne, our Canadian member who came down from Vancouver, said on the way back the Canadian customs official said “thank you for representing Canada”.
It was a great weekend. I have all of my photos on my Snapfish account if you’d like to look at them all. I weeded out the accidental photos of the sky and blurry statues as we passed by.
There are now plans for a March for Science to be held in April. We probably won’t make it to Washington, D.C., again but we’ll join the Atlanta march that is being planned. Katy has the march bug now and would really like to do something like that again.