In hindsight, booking that ticket to D.C would never have happened had it not been for an impetuous impulse where I was desperate for some kind of action the week after the election. Just as early details surrounding this massive protest began taking shape. I, and a few of my friends here on the west coast, determined to get there. Though in all honesty, I think had I known the movement would ultimately stretch itself across every major city in the nation, I would have just as well joined the likes of all the ladies marching here in L.A or San Diego, who's turn out proved equally impressive and would have been much more convenient for me considering the regular feat of juggling four kids, three in school, a house inching towards escrow, and good old airplane anxiety.
But man, I would have missed out on so much.
The whole glorious experience surrounding the march in Washington granted me. Five days spent in the close company of the most inspiring women, some of them old friends, some new acquaintances and one, a life long idol of mine who's connection stemmed only from a flimsy mutual online admiration. Hours I spent conversing in hotel rooms, plotting in dim lit dinners, sitting contently around home spaces by the fire, marching alongside a million other "resisters." Catching new strength of heart simply by soaking up the moments in and around the protest. One on one conversation handing real advice and valid information.
I arrived in NY late night and reeling, Jess, on the other hand, greeting me at the airport exhausted at midnight, driving us back to the cozy confines of her quaint Brooklyn apartment in a scatter of light rainfall where a blow up mattress and a faux fireplace in the room downstairs became most effective aid to my new battle with insomnia. In the morning, a brown bag of fresh bagels delivered to us in the midst of shaking off the grips of slight jet lag. Trading politics for wedding talk, in between cups of coffee, counting all the ways we could best arrange her apartment to suit the wedding crowd coming in May with the same intensity given to convos regarding the shifting tone of the whole country. Already proving desperate to unveil it's own severe home edits and rearranging. The two of us vowing to become more active, alert, responsive and efficient in our resistance. To hold each other accountable. While sinking back into the comforts of trite gossip when the topic of country started to wear us thin. The kinds of shifts only friends for ages can manage without the shadow of judgment there as sobering alignment. An easy, carefree kinship we probably both take for granted more than we even realize.
Experiences that came to define the this trip for me, more so than even the march I came for. Talking to a variety of women about where and how we move forward from this point on. Learning about voicing our fears and frustrations to congress. Calling, writing, expressing. Pulling new inspiration from the points of view that came from each of them. Gretchen, in the downtown bar across the street from the hotel, with her big warm eyes and sharp wardrobe, engaged and fired up like any good leader of a feminist protest group should be. Anne Parker - my long time texting companion - who's company I only know via an ever ready phone screen, arriving flushed from the cold with a bottle of wine after a long day's march, pulled from a small canvas tote to toast the women gathered there around us in unison for the a bigger cause. A bar full of strangers in pink knit hats whose quick smiles and knowing nods offered instant means of connection. And then again, with the boos that came in waves during a news clip of our newest leader on the bar's television. In the company of a few hard core Trump fans looking pissed in their otherwise joyous red caps. To which I say, hey guys, we all earned our drinks rightfully that day.
The women in the bathroom at the train station, that I'll never forget, thanking us gently on her way out for being out there in honor of so many who wanted to be but couldn't.
The bus drivers who offered us praise as we pulled into a dark lot in D.C to unload with our signs.
Margaret and Katherine in the crowd beside us, offering much needed comic relief - like close and charismatic sisters are always best at, lending good natured support during the four (or three of five or however many it was) hours we stood in a single spot listening to an endless array of speakers on stage before growing utterly desperate to break out and move our bodies, to get out and walk. Latonya, with her big flashing grin greeting us from the stoop at her handsome brownstone apartment on our way out of town early Friday morning. Lending quick laughter and valuable insight to a trio of bitter (albeit funny) commentary unrolling during the three hour drive we made from Brooklyn to Baltimore while live streaming the entire Inauguration from my phone that birthed a collective tie of sentiments ranging from sorrow (over watching one beloved man on his way out) and horror (over another frightful one taking his place) An acquaintance turned friend during this trip, who's voice offered us intimate insides to the significance of Black Lives Matter and how it's sorely neglected by the bulk of white community and it's overall mindset. As well as other issues the black community feels we are essentially disconnected from but genuinely interested in educated us if we're willing.
** on a lighter note: She also laughed hardest at my protest sign mispelling. The unfortunate result of a 2am creation that left the damn N out of the word "resistance." Which I didn't catch until after I posted it to 70,000 people. All of which a handful kindly pretended not to notice. But that I had to correct with a borrowed pen later that day. To save face, and allow for further photo opps...
We talked abortion. Legislation. Fashion. Food. Fascism.
On my last day, a cold and rainy afternoon in the city where a chance meet up with Helena Christensen (whom I had only held out small hopes of actually meeting up with during this trip and would feel so silly to try and pass off as anything other than a life long dream scenario of mine) came to fruition in a small cafe over lentil soup and regular girl talk. A woman who's infamous features are every bit as stunning in person, but with an air of "celebrity" that falls away almost instantly once you realize that your intuitions - about her being exceptionally sharp, with fantastic street style, who's great taste in men can only be eclipsed by even better taste in music - is but a footnote to the candidness she emits from across the table almost immediately. In the throes of discussing everything from pop culture, to motherhood, to politics. Even in the company of someone she's only known casually through social media. ** Said person who openly admits in the enchanted glow of her gorgeous loft, stocked with an envious amount of amazing art and books in the Village, that the pictures she snapped of her framed childhood photos are now her newest screen saver. Because sometimes playing it cool is overrated. Most specifically when you meet a woman you've loved this long who ends up proving far more alluring and insightful than you even imagined. And the absolute best way to conclude the trip to the big city just as you're starting to miss the wild chaos back at home.
In the end, I debated a full week before sitting down to write about my lasting reflections on the march. Mainly because I found myself critical of some aspects of it and figured it wasn't worth noting when the bigger picture should be focused on just how many Americans are feeling the same way and still searching for sufficient means of progress in resistance. I felt less interested in cultivating a post revolving around some of the core issues because at the end of the day I kept coming back to how powerful these conversations were for me. In helping encourage, push and support each other during what is increasingly feeling like darker times ahead. So that we stay active and aware. Dedicated and informed. Everywhere I turn my daily media sites are flooded with onslaughts of articles, petitions, news briefings, ect and some days it honestly gets to feel a little overwhelming. The alternative being: reaching out to those around us. Asking for help and guidance. And giving it back when we can.
We all know we on the left have some major work to do. To mend and evolve our party, as well as continue holding the current administration accountable. And for many of us, there is so much we still need to learn. What I'm hoping is that the momentum of these Marches transpires from a moment to a movement, inspiring an individual desire to try and bind together to evolve our frustrations into solid action. #Intersectionalfeminism all the way. Paying less mind to the critisicms out there (gosh, there lots) and more to potential solutions, without sacrificing the art of hearing the other side. These days, more than every before, "listening" is starting to feel like an art we aren't much interested in progressing. And without it, we only grow weaker in our defeat. As empowering as it feels to be surrounded by likeminded people, neglecting to listen to those voices opposing is part of the reason we're here in the first place. A fact I myself am working hard to address and hopefully correct too. . Because there are so many out there feeling lost and helpless. Watching the heads of power barreling forward against everything we believe this country stands for.
My plan being simple, to lean on the ladies (and men) around me. One on one. For support and direction. And in turn reach out to the ones who need it. So we go at it together. By foot, voice, brains, art, protest, love and respect. United as one.
In that, I can't help but think there's any way we can loose.
That being said, I hope to continue the topic here on a regular basis and am wondering:
what are your tips and advice?
How do you plan to remain proactive?
Sites we should know?
Petitions to sign?
Phone calls to make?