It overflows from the minute we step out of the rows of white buses, all coming from one place or another.
A surge of pink hats with pussycat ears – each one slightly askew – that carry a message; we are here and we will be heard.
The sea of pink grows as we walk past capitol hill town-homes, some with signs about loving your neighbours and with their doors open wide. Residents standing in their gardens cheering us on towards the Capitol building.
Cops and the national guard tell us to be safe, all with smiles on their faces. Cars honk at us and twirl pink hats and scarves out of their windows to show their support.
As we approach the stark white round form of the Capitol building the pink surrounding me only grows. The fuchsia hoard swells, bigger and wider, until it’s all that can be seen from left to right.
Some of these pussy hats are knitted. Some are put together with a variety of safety pins and felt material while others like mine are plastic kitty ears with pink cloth wrapped around them (I can’t knit to save my life). But they all ring with the same message – you will not disrespect us without being held accountable or without consequence.
The amount of coral, salmon and blush hues becomes overwhelming as we stuff onto Constitution Avenue, holding our signs high as we slowly wander towards Independence Avenue – where we are supposed to be – and I become very comfortable with my neighbours. We are pressed together like sardines, each smelling a variety of body odors and wincing when an over eager protester screams out a chant in our ears. Despite this, no one pushes or complains. We just sort of advance forward – walking in the shadow of each others footsteps, slowly, carefully and respectfully.
When, after an hour of this slow crawl, I make it to Independence Ave I am, perhaps for one of the very few times in my life, genuinely speechless at the sight before me. Bodies fill up every crevice of the street from the Capitol building at the top of the hill to as far as I can see behind me. People are stood on concrete barriers, on walls, on top of vans and on top of porter potties trying to get a glimpse of the stage where celebrities and civil rights icons expel words of motivation and inspiration. I zig zag closer to the stage. I move past men and women, both hetrosexual and gay couples, families with children ranging from babies to teens, and groups of all colours and creeds. Everyone smiles, we take each others photos and help one other move to the spots we want to be in. The stage in the distance has speakers larger than the stage itself, but with the density of the crowd I can’t really hear. My mum in Florida can hear them on the TV (she texts me to tell me they’re pretty good).
By standing on my tippy toes I manage to see Alicia Keys and Janelle Monae perform, their electricity is infectious. We are all itching to start marching. Chants of “March! March! March!” begins to erupt from the crowd. The icy wind picks up, our finger tips clutch onto our signs and we shuffle in place. I wonder what it must look like for the people stood on top of the vans and from the stage. I like to think that if you got a little bit of height you could see the pussy hats cover this entire city.
Finally, the sweet words are spoken from the stage – “it’s time to march.” As if we’ve been waiting our entire lives to hear that sentence, we turn, almost in unison, away from the stage and towards the start point of the march. I look out over the crowd, all these people, from so many walks of life, all wearing this symbol in order to say – this will be history whether the man who was sworn in yesterday likes it or not.
We begin to walk; we hoist our signs high and chant:
“Show me what democracy looks like!”
“This is what democracy looks like!”
As we begin I see a young girl in front of me carrying a sign that reads ‘a woman’s place is in the resistance’ with an image of Carrie Fisher behind the words. Another little girl across the way sees it and excitedly points it out to her mum.
“Show her your sign,” the mum says with a smile. The little girl, whose brown eyes beam and toothless grin extends, turns her sign around and it reads “I am a force of love.”
It is surrounded by the rebel alliance symbol. The little girl with ‘force of love’ sign holds it up and jumps so the little girl with the ‘resistance’ sign can see it. Their eyes connect and they laugh and grin as they each proudly hold up their signs to show one another – sharing a moment of uncensored connection and love.
As the hours pass and my feet begin to ache and my arms wobble from holding my sign above my head I keep that image in mind. All any of us want is another soul to recognize, appreciate and love us – like those two little girls. This March is full of moments like that, as people support and identify with one another.
We march towards the Washington Monument, and the time seems to move faster. We arrive at the turn, the monument to the left and the White House a little further down the road. We feel it. This sense of solidarity with the rest of the world. Rumours move through the crowd. We have nearly 500,000 here and there are millions marching with us around the world. As the sun begins to set and we turn past the monument our sense of purpose seems to be firmly instilled. This is our time, and it’s our duty to keep this government, this man accountable to a generation of women. We are almost at the White House. I turn around to see it behind me, for miles and miles. The sea of pink seems to have transformed into a never ending ocean, and it might be one of the most exquisite things I’ve ever seen.
- Written on January 21st, 2017 sometime between 12 and 2am on an 18 hour bus ride back to Orlando from Washington D.C