When I boarded Skedaddle bus number 6661 from Hartford’s Trinity College at 1:15 AM on January 21st, I wasn’t expecting to be handed a cookie. It was chocolate chip, homemade and delicious. As the bus pulled out of the parking lot the other riders and I got comfortable for the six-hour ride to our nation’s capitol, ate our cookies and let out a collective “Whoo hoo!” This was just the first of a smorgasbord of experiences to, from, and at the Women’s March on Washington.
I wasn’t going to D.C. only to march as my own response to the hateful, misogynistic, racist, divisive call of rhetoric from our now 45th president, I was going to D.C. to talk with other marchers for inclusion in an essay I will be writing for PAGE literary magazine.
The day of the inauguration I drafted my questions. Sitting at my kitchen counter with my pen, paper and pre-march sustinence of tea and chocolate, I watched and listened to Trump’s bleak inaugural address. My questions, it turned out, were easy: “Why are you marching?” “Will your involvment encourage future civic involvment?”
By the time my bus arrived in D.C. I had interviewed two women: one upon boarding while nibbling our cookies and one hours later as our bus drove out of the Baltimore harbor tunnel and into fog.
By the time my bus departed D.C., I had marched, chanted, posed for pictures, taken pictures, and interviewed four more women, not including the four women I spent the day with- who two days ago were acquaintences and are now friends.
I have enough material for a book series never mind an essay.
I’m just beginning to digest the smorgesbord. After a late morning breakfast and the best shower ever, I spent the majority of today watching video of yesterday’s rally speakers and spoke by phone with a graduate school friend who was also at the event to compare notes. I’ve reviewed my little red notebook and disciphered my interview short-hand while my memory is fresh.
In my notebook I recorded my talks with a nurse, a professor, a town official, an immigant, and an elementary school teacher. All women, but from different economic classes and a huge arrary of life expererience. We gathered with over 500,000 others to march, to support, and chant together. There was a rhetorical call and this was our action response.
In my first chant of the day a single voice called “Tell me what democracy looks like!” And we responded: “This is what democracy looks like!” The signs were up, the mood was up, my head was up.
I will begin the essay this week, digesting, interpreting, and finally writing my impressions. It would be a lie to say that I know exactly what that essay will look like. But I do know this: my experience at the Women’s March in our nation’s capitol was similar to the cookie I was handed when I first boarded the bus: homemade, homegrown, and even more delicious.