It was about 8am and we finally found a parking spot somewhat near the Expo line Metro station at Bundy. Practically from the moment we opened the door we found camaraderie with a woman inquiring if it was okay to park there. Eric reassured her it was a fine place to park.
Initially, using complex Facebook math that is scientifically tested to be statistically accurate, I assumed something in the range of 45–50k marcher’s. Upon getting to the station though, there was a huge line just to buy tickets and there were rumors swirling about free access today. We made friends in line with a mother who was as curious as us about the free rides, and eventually we gained access to the platform up top. It was beginning to dawn on me that perhaps my estimations were inaccurate, as the platform was just jammed, and the eastbound train was chock full. Not only that, the westbound train was jam packed, as people were getting on the train just to get a spot before it looped back around.
Quickly we abandoned our plan of utilizing public transit (Sorry to my urban planning transit geek friends, you can totally make fun of me) and proceeded to drive to downtown. We parked, waited for Mickey and Danielle before taking a Lyft as close as we could get, and then we realized there was no way in hell we were getting to Pershing Square. We were about a good block away when the crowd just got too thick to move. No one was getting mobile service, no calls, data, nothing. So much for linking up with many friends who were supposed to show up. The same was true for Patricia, a young woman I befriended in the crowd near us, and we invited her to join our group since there was little hope of her finding her friends. I think we were instantly good friends, and Patricia gave us some extra signs she had made, which was perfect because we had none.
Everyone was in a great mood, smiling and laughing, pointing out the cleverness of all the signs. Facts Matter! Girls Just Want to Have FUNdamental Rights! It felt a little bit more like a festival than an anti-Trump rally. We were at the whims of the crowd, like floating seaweed in a vast ocean, we were ready to go wherever the crowd would take us. Everyone was friendly, I mean everyone. When we got marching we’d talk to everyone around us, smiles, big huge smiles, or should I say YUGE smiles? There was the occasional high five and everyone was more than willing to help take a picture of your group, or make room for your selfie.
I knew my mom was here somewhere, but at a certain point I gave up on running into anyone I knew randomly. It gave me a great sense of comfort though, because it meant that WAY more people showed up than I thought would. I saw a woman with a sign that read “Hi Mom”, so I got a picture holding her sign and figured that would have to do in place of marching with my mom. (spoiler alert: She loved it!)
Collectively we were a group of five misfits, lets call us the party of five, or well maybe the super awesome amazing party of five…..yes that has a better ring to it. Anyhow, we brought the energy, the noise, the passion. Our go to chant was “Love, not Hate, Makes America Great”. We were constantly encouraging everyone to smile, saying “Smiles are sexy!”, and they pretty much all obliged us. A lot of the time we were being total goofballs, really silly stuff, like saying “Has anyone seen my mom??”, and then a big lady comes out of nowhere and gives Mickey a great big hug, “I’ll be your mom”, she says!
It was kind of like that all day. Everyone was there for each other. Everyone had every reason to be angry. I mean this election cycle has probably been the most divisive and hateful election cycle this country has ever seen. You open Facebook or Twitter, you look on the news, and you feel like we’re living in two different countries. I subscribe to the widely held belief that all emotions stem from either love or hate. I probably spend more time on social media then I should, and I see a lot of hate from both Trump supporters and Trump detractor’s. For months I’ve been trying to bridge that divide, trying to lead by example and even directly telling people that hating the other side isn’t going to solve anything, its not going to create any sort of meaningful dialogue.
Overwhelmingly, the LA Womens March chose love over hate. It was a beautiful response, incredibly touching and moving to all who were there. It wasn’t even like you needed to mention it. You could simply see it on everyone’s face. The whole day I had that feeling of familiarity with everyone I saw. I didn’t need to run into any of the other friends I knew were there. These were all my friends, these were all my people. This was a defiant love. We would not let politics divide us. We would not let our democracy be eroded by fear of one another, of immigrants, of anyone.
Everyone had different reasons for marching and the media and the critics will try to pinpoint whichever one they disagree with the most. Who cares. The main point is that somewhere between 3 and 4 million people got out of their homes and took to the streets, not knowing if things would get crazy, not knowing if there would be riots. People came and they brought their signs, and their daughters and their sons. Men came and they wore their pink hats. They brought their love and they brought their support. It wasn’t so much about them and what they wanted, but more about supporting the larger group, the collective. That just melts my heart, because growing up in the United States its easy to get that sense that everyone is just out for themselves. It’s a dog eat dog capitalistic world where everyone’s trying to get rich, everyone trying to make a buck off you. But not on this cold Saturday in January, nope. Rain or shine, Americans showed up across the country and made a statement, hopefully a statement that will be echoed loudly for years to come. A statement that you are not alone.
I hope this is a building block, the first of many bricks in a giant bridge to connect our hearts to city hall, to the White House, and to the rest of the country where a wall has been built. “Build Bridges, Not Walls”, one sign side. I couldn’t have said it better myself.