From above, from the bird’s eye view of helicopters or satellites, the crowd was massive.
On the ground, we were just a bunch of people with sore feet, crammed into too small a space, jostled and knocked off balance as everyone tried to get to the center of the action. We were pressed so closely together that we couldn’t move, forward or back.
After a couple hours of this, those around me wearied of the seemingly endless progression of speakers they couldn’t hear and began to shout, “March! March! March!”
But we didn’t budge. Rumors spread that the march had been cancelled because there was nowhere to go. The route was filled, beginning to end, with people.
Unable to verify this because cell phone service was overwhelmed, many of us gradually began to work our way to side streets, disappointed to have failed in our plan to march on the White House, but grateful to have been part of history. Little did we know that hundreds of thousands more had gathered in places as disparate as New York, London, Antarctica and Seneca Falls.
Clearly, an event that began with an almost offhand comment on Facebook had been a huge success. The walk, drive, flight to the march had become the march, I told myself.
And then I found it - the roaring river of people crossing the mall between the Washington Monument and the Capitol, turning onto Pennsylvania Avenue, joined by more crowds flowing in from feeder streets.
This coming together became the theme of a remarkable day. I had ridden a bus through the night with a group of strangers from upstate New York. One had marched in Selma. Another, living in a rural area, frightened by the racism and xenophobia of her neighbors, was taking her teenaged daughter to her first demonstration.
At the march, I met so many others not in my small, protected world. I walked with lesbians with brush cuts and women wearing hijabs. I found myself surrounded by young people alternating between songs in Spanish and cries of “We are not illegal! No to deportation!” I laughed as college students chanted, “We need a leader! Not a creepy tweeter!” I saw more drawings of the female reproductive system than I have seen since…ever.
I don’t, in my daily life, interact with Muslim women. I don’t speak Spanish and I don’t believe I know anyone living in the United States without papers. I’m 62; no one is likely to grab my pussy or deny me access to abortion.
And yet here we were, walking together, not for one cause, but in shared opposition to one man and his policies.
This is what the new president has done. He has burst our bubbles.
Thank you for that, Mr. Trump.