For me inauguration day was a media blackout. I woke up feeling that awful pit in your stomach that you get when someone dies. I took a yoga class in the morning and celebrated my birthday early with my daughter getting girly spa services before having dinner at my favorite neighborhood place. It was pretty heavenly. Although I knew not seeing the events wouldn’t change them, I honestly couldn’t bear to witness such a sad and hopeless day.
Yesterday I took part in Boston’s Women’s March with my husband, some friends and 175,000 other concerned citizens. The energy was big and bawdy and beautiful. Senator/Warrior Elizabeth Warren spoke passionately, as did Senator Ed Markey. Even Mayor Marty Walsh was offering the crowd words of encouragement in his unmistakably Boston accent.
At one point, one of the speakers (I can’t remember who) asked the crowd to lock eyes with a stranger and show them that you could really see them. I turned to my right to see a girl in her 20’s or 30’s. We stared at each other and as we did, we both started to cry. It was so powerful, we walked the few steps toward each other and hugged for a long moment. I couldn’t even quite understand why I was crying, or what was making me so emotional at the time, and it confused me some. I asked her afterward–“Why are we crying?” She said simply, “It’s a very emotional day.”
But what I realize now, after giving it some thought is that we were crying because we were among those who felt like we did. That there on the hallowed grounds of the Boston Common were people who’d come from all over to exercise their right to express themselves, their fears, and their beliefs. We were among like-minded people who don’t accept racism and bigotry and misogyny, who believe in science and hard statistics, who want health care and women’s reproductive rights protected and believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, who want a president who isn’t a tweeter, but a leader, who understands that immigrants are what this country is made of, who doesn’t talk about himself incessantly, who isn’t impulsive and narcissistic, divisive and polarizing, but open and thoughtful and unifying. That’s why we were crying. It was a relief to know that we were not alone, and that all over the country (and the world) there were people who were just like us gathering peacefully to say that we weren’t going to be silent about what we believe.
It was very crowded, more crowded than the planners had expected, and we got stuck coming out of the Common to join the march in a sea of people and didn’t move for about an hour. So we never actually marched, because we escaped down Charles Street and walked halfway home, before hopping on the T. But I got what I’d come for–a feeling of hope, knowledge that I was not alone, that there were millions of people who cared. With an administration like this one, that’s everything.
Now, we have to take all the power of yesterday and turn it into something more. We have to continue to agitate and mobilize into something solid that can really bring about change. We can’t stop here. We have to keep pushing, keep organizing. After seeing all the pictures from all the many marches, I believe we can. As someone I love once said, “Yes, we can.”