I arrived at the Heritage Square Metro stop to meet my producer at 8 a.m., and by about 8:01 realized there was no way in pussy-dom that was going to happen. The platforms were overflowing with people, but the crowd was absolutely cheery: Retirees with chapped cheeks from the morning cold got help navigating the TAP kiosks from swarthily dressed millennials, artist Chris Rush sported a colorful handmade felt version of a “pussy beanie’, a wooly looking father nuzzled his little girl, a group of rainbow clad 40-something women waited with their kids, and burgeoning feminists were excited to show their signs and sport their matching decorated shirts. 15-year-old Izzy Sherman proudly explained that she was there “to tell Trump that it’s not okay to say the things that he said about women.” The train car was so jam packed full of strangers, I was only able to squeeze in because the crowd was nice enough to let me wedge myself between them.
When I finally arrived to Pershing Square, the exit was a molasses-like crawl, with more people in one space than I’ve ever witnessed before (and I’ve been to the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin). There was no pushing, no shoving, just the occasional wave of cheering through the crowds letting each other know that the tight space was still safe. I moved together with the sprawl of protesters, up the stairs and escalators and out into the square. A woman in her sixties told me she’d never seen anything like it before, and was awed that so many people braved the Metro.
I thought the crowd might dissipate at the top of the escalator, but not so. I made my way to an alley that was clear, and with the help of a few fellow protestors jumped on a dumpster and over a metal fence, making my way to the corner of 6th and Hill.
The crowd was stymied, but people were polite and optimistic. I was sandwiched between a tiny baby in a carriage with a banner that read 'Nasty Baby', a fire-headed young woman holding a 'People are Created Equal' sign, and comedian Gregg Proops.
City worker Eli Gomez saved a phone that got tossed up from the crowd and snapped a photo of the people. He told me he was impressed so many people could come together peacefully and wanted to take home the Shepard Fairey 'We the People' poster of the woman with the flower in her hair.
When the crowd finally thinned out enough for the March to begin, two different routes formed making their way to City Hall. It was nearly noon by this point, as we walked down the middle of Broadway, a street normally crowded with cars and pedestrians, and instead passed Vikings, Princess Bubblegum, and veteran marchers sporting their legacy of protest buttons.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard by people who didn’t attend the march was that people don’t even know why they were going, that there was no common purpose. Perhaps that’s true, but people were out championing whatever cause seemed most important to them, be it climate change, women’s rights, reproductive or gay rights, or hope for better health care.
I woke up this morning to the sound of rain, my husband hugging me while a galaxy of tiny rain droplets collected on our bedroom window, and I woke up to choices, so many choices: heater on or off, coffee or juice, cookies or eggs, get up or hit the snooze a few more times. And I felt incredibly lucky. Experiencing the march, I was reminded that my right to vote, wear clothes I love without judgment, receive birth control, or an abortion if I decide that’s what’s best for my life--is not a result of luck, but of centuries of people before me standing up for our rights. Standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life, people who decided to give a damn and show up with an energy of optimism in the face of so much uncertainty, makes me hope that we will someday meet an even greater, kinder America.