Remember yesterday, when I posted those photos from the riots and the protests happening around D.C.? Remember that video from the balcony here, with the emergency vehicles and the sirens, and remember how I said it had been that way all day?
Well, that was yesterday. Today is a whole different story.
This morning, as my temporary roommates stirred, making breakfast and taking showers and getting dressed, I stood on the balcony and watched.
Early on, the streets were quiet, pretty still. But as I stood and watched, I begin to see them. Women mostly, but men, too, Coming out of apartments and hotels, out of side streets, converging into a tsunami of humanity rolling toward the halls of power here in Washington, D.C.
We left our apartment and joined the tide, headed toward the designated spot where the pre-march rally was to be held. We got, I think, maybe a mile away from that main stage before it became too crowded too really even walk.
I did get a glimpse of a Jumbotron showing scenes from the stage where speakers were gathered for the rally. But only a glimpse. I did hear America Ferrera speak, but I didn’t see her. Not even on the Jumbotron.
We turned to get out of the heaviest part of the crowd and maybe swing around to get there a different way, but that’s when I got separated from the group. And since cell service was non-existent, at least on my phone, I decided to just go it alone. We all knew how to get home, anyway.
So I wiggled my way out to the Mall, where the crowd was less dense, taking photos and watching people, listening to the chants. There was an ebb and flow, as strong and sometimes inescapable as the tides of the oceans themselves.
Unable to get to the actual location of the march, and unable to see or hear the speakers on the stage — like I said, we were probably a mile or so away — would start their own marches. Friends who had come to the event together would begin to chant as they made their way through the crowd. Others would join in, and the crowd would part to make way for them.
A large crowd — I’d say at least a couple hundred people — had gathered on the steps of the National Gallery of Art on Madison Drive, just on the north side of the Mall. And as they cheered and whistled, others staged their own march down Madison. Waving signs, they chanted and sang. For a minute, I thought that was the actual march.
There was even a group, each wearing coveralls decorated to look like brick walls, and led by a jazzy band playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” They each represented, one woman explained to me, a brick in the wall we must build to keep out Trump’s hatefulness and divisiveness.
Eventually, I made my way to the Capitol Building, circling the large pool out front before finding Pennsylvania Avenue. I decided if I couldn’t get to the front to the march, then I would beat it to the White House.
Lots of other folks had the same idea. In the end, I never saw any of the many celebrities who were here today, and I only saw the throng of the “official” march across the expanse of the Ellipse in front of the White House.
But I was surrounded all day by the strength and the spirit of this Women’s March on D.C. There was anger and frustration, yes. But there was also determination, hope and a fierce kind of joy that seems to promise that while we may have suffered a setback, we can’t really be beaten.
And when I got back to the apartment and began to see the reports of the hundreds of people gathering for the sister marches back in Texas — in Dallas, in Fort Worth, in Austin — and around not just this country but the world, I felt that dark cloud that has haunted us since November start to lift.
Yesterday was a day of sirens here in D.C. Today though, there was a very different sound. You could hear it throughout the heart of the city, a muted thumping that grew into a roar. You could hear it start blocks and blocks away, the sound of thousands of voices yelling out, and it would move across the crowd — like in a sports stadium when the crowd does “the wave.”
“Here it comes,” a woman standing near me said one time. “Get ready.” And then she yelled. Everyone was yelling. Not in anger, but in determination. In hope.
I hope we keep that wave building, and the sounds of our voices joining together will sweep across this country. Don’t let the spirit of this day die.