January 20, 2017
I said I wouldn’t watch TV today. That almost worked. I left Vermont after a snowstorm. Except for the plowed roads, the whole world was white. I drove to my daughter’s apartment in Providence.
This morning at Southwest Gate 24, women in pink knitted pussy hats waited to board the plane. I was wearing a pink button on the lapel of my black coat. “I’m with Planned Parenthood”. Several friends texted to tell me they were expressing their sadness with this day by dressing all in black, and many others in the airport were too. A young mother sitting next to me texted her daughter on her iPhone and wished her a good day at school. A majority of us were headed to the Women’s March and despite the somber mood of the day, there was a festive air as we boarded the plane. As I slowly made my way down the aisle one man leaned out of his seat, pointed to my button, and said “They do good work. I own a convenience store near their office and there are protestors out there once a week.” He shook his head in disbelief. “Are you marching?” he asked.
“Good for you. Thank you.” I smiled as I moved along the narrow aisle. It was a full flight and the overhead bins were almost full. Luckily my bag fit under the seat. Two sets of pink pussy ears peaked above the seats in front of me. The man in the aisle seat to my left spoke with a Scandinavian accent. He was returning home to Baltimore, and he also complimented liked my pin. The man at the window was watching the Fox lead up to the inauguration on his iPad and never looked up until the stewardess came by to ask if we were willing and able to open the exit doors in case of an emergency. She wanted his attention so I tapped him on the knee and he gave me a dirty look. I pointed to the flight attendant and he took his earbuds out for a moment and said, “I know the drill. I’m all set.” Then he earbuds back on. He never shut his iPad off, even when we were taking off down the runway, or when we landed. I occasionally snuck a glance at his screen and watched as Trump and his family made their way to St. James church.
While waiting for the MARC train from BWI to Union Station in Washington, DC, I met many women who came here to march. Two ladies from Orlando, a young woman from Denver who had been traveling since the night before and came by way of Fort Lauderdale. An immigrant from Somalia, a woman from Hartford who broke her foot, was at the same healthcare rally I attended last Sunday, and had stayed at the Inn I worked at in Norfolk but several years earlier than my arrival. She was marching despite her injury. A husband and wife from Long Island both wore knitted pink pussy hats. His was a slightly deeper shade of pink.
At Union Station I made my way to the Metro where I took the red line to Tenley Town. A group of white suburban women wearing red Make America Great Again baseball caps, two of them dressing up the look with fur coats, took the four seats in front of me. They were whooping it up, chattering loudly and celebrating. The black woman sitting next to me looked up from texting and peered over her reading glasses. I heard her “tsk tsk”. She looked at me and we shook our heads. “Scary days,” she whispered. “Yes indeed,” I whispered back. The Trump ladies got off after two stops and so did the lady sitting next to me. A young man grabbed the seat in front of me, turned around, and in reference to the Trump ladies, said, “I just wanted to ask them, Why? Did they hear the things he said? Do they think he’s qualified? What about this Russia stuff? Why? Just tell me why.”
The escalator at the Tenleytown stop is one of the steepest, scariest escalators I’ve ever been on. I road to the daylight gripping the the banister. Out to the street it was quiet. American University students and people on their lunch break passed by. My cousin had told me about a taco place not far from her house. I took a seat at the counter next to two Mexican workers who spoke Spanish to each other and ate bowls of spicy chicken, rice, and veggies. Outside the window, a man pushed his daughter in a stroller and his young son hopped along a short wall that ran along the sidewalk. The stucco church across the street looked like something you’d see in Mexico. A flock of birds swooped out of the trees and circled the steeple. Life went on and the drama taking place near the Capital seemed a universe away.
On the walk to my cousin’s house I got lost a couple of times and Siri, as usual, was useless. A group of four young boys whizzed by on skateboards, one of them carrying a sign that read “The End of the World Begins at Noon Today”.
My cousin’s husband was home and the TV was on. Riots were taking place on a street near the offices of the Washington Post. Trash barrels were rolled over and lit on fire. A Starbucks window had been broken. The police were shooting pepper spray and tear gas. My father called. He was watching the news back in Rhode Island and wanted to know where I was in the city. He told me to be careful. I didn’t tell him I heard Trump had failed to fill a lot of government jobs and I was flying today without a director of the FAA. I also didn’t tell him I forgot to bring the whistle.
Once a parent, always a parent. Today is my oldest daughter’s 25th birthday. When she was born on January 20th I thought she might grow up to work for a political candidate and get invited to an inaugural ball on her birthday. This is not the year. She, like her mother, voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary and I think I convinced her to vote for Hillary in November. Today she was skiing on a foot and a half of powder in Lake Tahoe. We talked on the phone but she also sent a text, “Yoooo shreddin’ pow ma”.
I’m marching tomorrow for her and her sister. The future of the planet they will inherit, the preservation of good public schools like the ones they attended in Exeter, NH, their reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, healthcare, so many things I can’t list them all here. I’m worried about their future. Once a Mom always a Mom.