Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Women's March on Washington: We are Worthy!

Me with my sign and my new friends standing in front of a memorial of
 Lincoln and the Emancipation; on our way to the March! 
Last Saturday, I had the amazing opportunity to walk with well over 500,000 amazing people in the Women's March on Washington.  I need to say, this is not intended to be a political blog.  The political issues of the day are complex and I have always believed that there are at least two sides to a story and more than one way to "skin a cat."  I have voted in every election since I was 18 years old and although many times my choice did not win, I have never protested the outcome.  In fact, walking on Saturday, was not a protest and it was not an anti-Trump rally (the protesters were out on Friday, during the inauguration).  This was different.  This was not an anti-Trump event.  This event was for women and the people and the planet that they love.  I went knowing that I had to be there.  I wasn't even sure exactly why I had to be there, I just knew I was going.  Perhaps, I felt something like a fall monarch being pulled to its homeland in Mexico that it had never seen before.  It felt like instinct.  And so. . . I went.

I made a friend on the bus I took out of Ann Arbor (we spent two nights on a bus together and shared our life stories).  Kiersten is a strong and amazing person that I'll never forget (standing to my left in the photo).  We later met up with 3 other amazing women from other buses and we instantly became a group of five.  My son John traveled from New York but we never were able to meet due to the incredible crowds (although amazingly, he bumped into his cousin and her fiance).  My son Ben, marched in Detroit.

Our group started out at the stadium (where our buses parked).  We all had purchased transit cards to ride the subway to the rally, but the subways were packed and we chose to walk.  As we walked, there were lots of police and crossing guards helping us along the way.  Those of us close to officers, thanked them.  Some of us were given a high-five as we passed.  People came out of their row houses to say, "Welcome to DC!  Thanks for coming!"  We even got a smile from a guard dressed in a camo uniform and standing in front of a camo painted tank.  It made me laugh and think I was witnessing visual "doublespeak."  The last thing that tank or person was, was camouflaged.  They should really paint their tanks with row houses, streetlights and sidewalks if they want to look camouflaged and the guard should have ditched the drab colors and gone with pink.  We were several blocks away from the rally on our walk and we desperately hoped to find a bathroom (you can imagine the lines that we women made).  We stepped into a tiny diner and feared we might be kicked out.  Not only did they let us use their facilities, but they gave us free coffee.  Amazing.  We hadn't even arrived on the mall and Washington DC was already pouring out love.

If you watched the news, you probably heard more than I did of the speeches that were presented (I hope to listen to some of them on YouTube in the days ahead).  It was amazingly crowded and hard to get around.  But even in the thickest crowds, people were polite and generous and kind.  At one point our group was pinned against the back of a long row of porta potties.  We couldn't move and we couldn't hear and it became hard to breathe.  We decided that it was time to move and as we tried to get out, I told folks in front of us that we had someone with claustrophobia in our group and we needed to move.  It was a bit like the red sea parting. . . people started moving and calling ahead, "they need to get out!  Make room!"  All day long, people were kind and patient and generous.

During the march there were several times when the gravity and beauty of the moment brought me to tears.  As we marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, we were surrounded by people from all walks of life.  There were young adults, families, elderly couples and people in wheelchairs.  There were people of all colors and faiths and backgrounds marching together in grand unity down the street toward the White House.  And it was the diversity and the love that made this march so amazing.  We were there for our own reasons but I think we were there, even more, for each other.  It is powerful to feel that you are in a crowd that marches, not for themselves but for you and that you march for them.  It was a mothering of sorts.  There was not a single arrest and there was hardly any litter (although all the garbage cans were overflowing, garbage was stacked neatly around the cans).  This was a women's march.  And for the first time, I really understood that we need women in leadership.  We need peaceful, powerful and positive movements led by women.

As we headed back to our buses at the stadium, one woman and her sign stood out.  I never saw her face, she was ahead of me.  Her sign was small and handwritten with black sharpie marker on cardboard.  The march was over so it was swinging by her side.  The sign read, "I Am Worthy."  For some reason, that image is ingrained in my mind and in my heart. . . . I think that is what I was seeking and why I was marching.  I wanted to say to women (and men and animals and rocks and trees and every creature everywhere) . . . you are worthy and I desperately wanted to hear, "you are worthy too."  

Thank you everyone who marched with me and for everyone who made me feel worthy.  We are Worthy.  We are all Worthy!