*This story originally appeared on vegasseven.com on January 24, 2017.
Walking up to gate 21 I couldn’t help but smile—the kind of smile when you receive a flirty text or when you think of something funny and can’t hold it in. The line at gate 21 was speckled with shades of pink knit hats. So many women boarded the plane and unlike the usual hums and whispers you here while waiting to step onto the airbus, the jet bridge was filled with chatter and laughter. There’s a sense of excitement that keeps everyone up on the red eye flight.
After landing at BWI, from plane to train, the crowd changed from pussy hats to red caps prompting me to dig mine out of my backpack and wear it in a sea of southern accents. My Amtrak seat mate Joy was a joy. We didn’t talk politics. It would be the only time I didn’t talk politics all weekend. Instead she told me about her family and husband who is going through chemo. Maybe she had other things to worry about than a new president. Arriving at Union Station, Joy gave me a map and a hug and we parted ways. The inauguration begins in less than two hours.
I stop for coffee then accidently find myself at the front of the anti-Trump protest. I walk silently along the crowd for what seems like three hours. There is a tinge of edginess when we pass police in riot gear that would later prove to escalate. I stop into Bolt Burgers to use the bathroom and for a beer. J.C. from Palm Beach Florida, who I call Jesus Christ, sits next to me and shares his holy fries as we watch President Trump sign the official papers on CNN. One man yells “DISGRACE! DISGRACE!” Moments later, flash-bang grenades sound and tear gas mist billows outside Bolt. And I’m seeing what’s happening just feet away from me on the same news cast. I leave and J.C. tells me to stay safe. Later, I see an old and young man get into a fist fight. I hope tomorrow is different.
And it is. The metro into the city for the Women’s March is packed so full there is literally not room for anyone else, but somehow we manage to make space for two more extra-curvy ladies. An old woman’s head is near my armpit but she isn’t phased. Her and her friend start to sing John Lennon’s “Power to the People” before we get to our stop. “Power to the people, right on!”
The crowds are too dense near the speakers. My friends, who I met up with earlier, and I didn’t bother to to fight them. Instead we make our way to the Washington Monument to wait for the march so we can join in. A dad and his son are playing hand ball against the monolithic memorial. Like them, everyone is happy. I’ve never seen so many smiling, empowered women and little girls in my life.
We jump in the march. There are so many clever signs: “We shall overcomb,” What precious snowflakes can do” with a picture of a 10-car blizzard pileup, and “This pussy fights back.” The word “pussy” that used to make women squirm now feels innocuous. We march our way through traffic where people are sitting on their cars and honking their horns. Construction workers there to work the inauguration are donning their pink hats and old men hold signs that say “Grandpas for equality.”
We make our way to White House where people left those witty signs on the front gate before heading back to the metro. The whole weekend was out of the ordinary and surreal I don’t know if I fully understand it, but knowing there were marches like this all around the globe fosters a sense of unity I doubt I will experience again.
Boarding the plane back home, the flight attendant gets on the speaker and compliments all the beautiful women on the plane and thanks them for marching. A group in the back starts chanting “Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!” and the women start to laugh. Trump may be our new president, but we now we know we’re unstoppable.