I’m proud to say that I took a trip to Washington DC last weekend to participate in the historically huge Women’s March on Washington. Unfortunately, my whole trip was a near perfect demonstration of Murphy’s law. The most flagrant tragedy of the weekend was obviously that a fleshy orange sack of unchecked ego was sworn in as our nation’s 45th president, yet my personal experience of the weekend also included setback after setback.
My original plan was that I would hitch a ride to Maryland with my friends Jonathan and Tina (who were also going to the march), take the train into DC to stay with another friend Friday night, and then go to the march on Saturday morning. We did depart on Friday afternoon, yet what Google maps claimed would only be a four hour drive ended up taking closer to seven and a half as we travelled among thick unrelenting traffic. Thus, I called my friend in DC and told her that I was going to get in too late and decided to just sleep on the floor of Jon and Tina’s hotel room.
After the long journey Jon and I desperately desired some beer in our bloodstream so we walked to a nearby gas station only to discover that in College Park, Maryland, you cannot buy beer in gas stations. So we then drove down the street to a bar (aptly named “Bar”) and settled in to some stools next to the locals. The first thing that happened was that we witnessed a drunk man in a powder blue sweatpants and hoodie getup being kicked out of the bar for pouring extra booze into his drinks from a flask in his pocket; the second thing that happened was that we were ignored by the bartenders for a solid ten minutes before we got to order our drinks; and the third was that our conversations was hijacked by a man spouting the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump was hypnotizing the populous with those weird hand movements he does.
The next morning, we drove down to the train station, parked a block away in a seemingly pleasant little neighborhood (Jon described it as “where your grandma would live”), and then took our place at the back of what I’m certain I can accurately describe as the longest line in the history of College Park, Maryland. We waited in line for roughly and hour and a half before we finally reached the machines that were dispensing metro cards. Go figure, as soon as I got to it, my machine decided it didn’t want to print metro cards anymore. Thus, I had to merge into another line and wait just a little longer before getting my card.
We finally packed ourselves into a train full of fellow marchers and made the trip into the heart of DC. We didn’t make it in time to hear the many wonderful speakers at the event, but we did get to march, chant, and wear ourselves out for a just and beautiful cause. Around 5pm we boarded another train and began our return journey and we were two stops away from our destination when the train suddenly stopped, broken. Everyone on the train waited helplessly, packed shoulder to shoulder for over an hour before another train came to slowly push us back to the previous stop. We finally boarded another train and made it back to good ole College Park, Maryland around 8pm, still anticipating a long drive back to NYC. We wandered back to the car and discovered that the back right window was smashed. Jonathan’s and my bags, each containing our laptops, were stolen.
Like I say, it was a near perfect display of Murphy’s law. Near perfect, but not perfect, because there was one glaring exception to the rule: The Women’s March was an unequivocal success. In DC and across the nation, people engaged in what was likely the largest demonstration in US history— a demonstration that despite it’s size and fervor incited no violence, and required no arrests. I was in awe of the sight of the seemingly endless sea of people marching past the Capital and the White House and on to the national mall, and invigorated by the energy that ran through the entire crowd. Every fifteen minutes or so I would hear a distant swell of jubilant screams that grew louder and louder until it swept over our portion of the march in a continuous wave. It was incredibly inspiring to come together in solidarity with so many people and affirm our belief in human rights for all people. For this was not so much a march against a truly despicable man, but a march for the rights of the historically disenfranchised. Sure, there were plenty of anti-trump chants (my favorite being “he’s orange, he’s gross, he did not win the popular vote”), yet there were just as many simply affirming basic rights (“My body, my choice! Her body, her choice!”) or basic tenets of American democracy (“Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”).
I do hope that we the people never again have such a dark reason to show up by the hundred thousands and affirm our belief in basic human rights, yet it was an incredible moment, a beautiful sight to see, and I felt extremely lucky to be there. The silver lining of electing a grotesque, sexist, xenophobic, neo-fascist, climate-change denying, cartoon super-villain as our president is that a massive number of American citizens now feel inspired to do things like call their senators, protest, and engage in civil-disobedience (parts of democracy that I and many others overlooked during Obama’s presidency). For all of the evil actions that Trump is going to attempt, I hope that there will continue to be equal and opposite reactions from the millions of people in the United States that truly believe that “all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, (and) that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
I spent the majority of my waking hours last weekend either sitting in a car, creeping along in bumper to bumper traffic, standing in a line, or packed shoulder to shoulder with strangers on a train. I also had my favorite bag, some of my clothes, my journal, a book, and my laptop stolen. And yet if I were given the chance to do it all again, I absolutely would. All of that was a small price to pay to witness and take part in the beautiful, historic, and life-affirming moment that was the Women’s March on Washington. Let us all continue to fight the good fight.