You've got to understand. I grew up in a different century. We knew how to protest, all right, but the whole taking pictures thing? Not so much.
I went to the Women's March on Washington. I was surrounded by a sea of people, and the pussy hats were a great touch. But my experience of the event was limited by the crowd, by being literally stuck in one spot for two and a half hours and then being lugged by the determined Heir all the way to the White House.
I walked eight miles and stood for 150 minutes. Holding my working wand in one hand and my Heir in the other. I didn't take many photos, and the ones I took didn't turn out.
Words must suffice. Sort of.
Heir and I boarded a rally bus in Martinsburg, West Virginia at 7:00 a.m. We were each given a WV Resist button that I will treasure forever.
EXHIBIT A: On the Bus
As we rolled down the highway toward the capital, the road became chock-a-block with rally buses, from all over the place. The closer we got to DC, the more buses we saw. And then, gosh, the lot at the stadium! Acres and acres of buses, all alike! More than 1200 of them. This would become an issue later.
My eldest daughter is The Heir. I have learned this about The Heir: She wants to dig in and get the most out of any extreme experience.
We walked from behind RFK Stadium to the Capitol building. And that's when it became surreal for me.
I live very near Philadelphia. It is an historic city. I am used to historic buildings either being modest little brick structures like Independence Hall, or Victorian extravaganzas like City Hall and 30th Street Station. I hadn't been to DC in a decade, and I had never walked all around it.
The buildings are huge. They are imposing. They are gigantic. And they're all epic. Half of them are built to look like Ancient Greece. They lie across the landscape like sleeping giants. When your historical compass is set on Independence Hall, the Capitol building seems like an entire planet.
EXHIBIT B: Independence Hall, Philadelphia
EXHIBIT C: U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, DC
Well, I guess you had to be there. It just felt monstrous, this great big building that I'd only seen in pictures before, or maybe once when I was in grade school I went to see my senator.
Heir is big on surreal stuff. She saw the stage, and a crowd that even Godzilla wouldn't attack, and she waded right in. I got out my working wand (I carry it everywhere) and held tight to the sleeve of her coat. And in we went, right to the thick of things.
I work with a co-teacher in one of my classes. She, like me, is politically active. She and her daughter took a bus from New Jersey. Before we went our separate ways at school on Thursday, she teased me about running into her, predicting that I would. In all that crowd. And damn. I can't believe it.
EXHIBIT C: What Are the Odds?
See the pussy hats in the background? They made the march. If you see a crowd of a half million people, and the crowd shot is mostly pink, that is beyond a doubt the Women's March on Washington.
Heir and I bused in with a good friend of mine from West Virginia, and then we ran into my colleague and her daughter, but Heir was not in the socializing spirit. She wanted to DO THIS THING. So we went our way and wound up gridlocked on the far side of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. There, people were climbing the trees to scope out the crowd. Heir found a high spot that wasn't in a tree, and we camped there for a long time. We couldn't move. The people around us couldn't move. We did what we could to ferry the people who were panicking to a less gridlocked area, but there wasn't much we could do.
There were no police in the crowd.
When you're stuck in a mob for hours, a lot of things run through your mind, especially if you're an anxious person. Like, what if someone sets off a bomb? Or, what if everyone has to run from something? Or, how can I get out of here and back to my bus?
But it didn't matter. We were all in this together. Everyone was polite, everyone was kind. Lots of people were very old! I couldn't believe all the senior citizens, the retirees. (One sign: "I did this in the '60's! I'm Back!" And of course: "Now You've Pissed Off Grandma."
Almost everyone had a sign. My favorites were "Never Underestimate the Power of a Faggot with a Tambourine" and "Resist, hon ... Baltimore." I also saw about a dozen people in various iterations of vagina costumes (head, whole body). Some folks will be creative!
You know what I may mostly remember about the Women's March on Washington? Talking about curriculum and standards with three retired teachers from Connecticut. We had lots of time to bond.
Finally, around 3:30, Heir reported that she saw movement. The pack started to break up a little bit. Some people went one way, some another. Someone told us that the march part of the day had been cancelled because there were too many people. Heir wasn't hearing it.
We surged off toward Pennsylvania Avenue, me clinging to Heir, and in 30 minutes we found ourselves marching and chanting right up the route the Orange Menace and his poor, sad spouse walked the day before. We knew this because the bleachers were still standing, and they were full of pink-hatted, screaming, chanting, sign-waving protesters.
Here is what we chanted:
*This is what democracy looks like.
*My body, my choice.
*Hey ho, hey ho, Donald Trump has got to go!
*Donald Trump, go away! How do you like your first day?
*Black lives matter.
Heir and I walked the whole way to the White House, and we even saw it off in the distance through about six fences. We left our signs there.
EXHIBIT D: We Left Some Reading Material for the Orange Menace
That's my Heir. Isn't she beautiful?
By this time we had marched four miles. All that remained was to retrace our entire route in time to get back on the bus at 6:00.
Heir seemed to know where to go. We walked and walked. Then Heir said, "Oh, look!"
It was the Environmental Protection Agency.
I had been near tears many times during the day. But this is where I lost it. I took my working wand, and I held it to the building, and I spoke intentions into the bricks. Stay put. Stay put. May all those working inside stay put. (I hope you'll add the EPA to your spell work as well.)
EXHIBIT E: Anne Doing Spell Work at the EPA
You can tell that's me because of the gold sneakers. Those are the shoes I wear to the Mummers Parade. I was sure I could walk miles in them, because I've done it before.
It got dark while Heir and I walked back to RFK Stadium. By the time we got to Lot 7 to find our bus, we had done eight miles or more. We had a tough time finding our particular rally bus, but with the help of my WV friend we finally collapsed into a seat, clutching the peanut butter sandwiches and water bottles the bus captain was handing out. Heir and I were the last ones back to the bus.
We rode back to West Virginia. The traffic was bumper to bumper almost the whole way. Heir and I were totally exhausted. We did it, though. We rallied, and we marched. I even did a little magick.
Sunday, Heir and I took the scenic route home. We passed my great-grandmother's house, which has not hardly changed at all from the old pictures from 100 years ago. We stopped by Baltimore, hon, to see Heir's grandmother. Then it was a long drive home in super heavy traffic, and then it was over.
Heir and I prepared for the worst. We wrote Mr. J's phone number on our arms in sharpie marker. We wore bandannas to protect our faces from tear gas. We didn't know what might happen. When push came to shove, though, I never saw a more benign crowd. Everyone was kind and gentle. Everyone drew energy from everyone else. In a crowd that size, such good will is essential. Any nastiness would have produced unparalleled mayhem.
Where do we go from here? As for me and my house, we will use our talents to oppose the Orange Menace. I imagine I'm preaching to the choir here. Please climb aboard.