When I first heard about the Women's March in Washington, I decided that I had to go. But when I heard that a march was being organized in Boston, a mile from our apartment, I decided it was even more important to make a statement here. The Revolution started here. The Sons of Liberty. The Boston Tea Party. When we protest, we do it right.
I bought poster board, fat markers, and glitter stars the night before the march, but I had no idea what I wanted my sign to say. I was a little too young to protest in the '60s and '70s, and hadn't done any civic actions besides some very uneventful support for for gay marriage at the State House. So it's high time I got my feet wet.
Googling around, I finally found a slogan that hit me, and my husband thought it was good. Now I just had to make the thing. It was only 10 pm — plenty of time.
My last poster moment was probably in high school, in the pre-computer era. For weeks I'd been dreading the sad, clumsy lettering I'd draw by hand. Then it occurred to me: we have a tabloid-size printer I laid out one word per page in a display font, and taped the pages to the board. Instant poster:
I wanted to play with my new markers so I added red outlines, and then all of the glitter stars. I turned the sign upside-down on the table so Harris couldn't eat the stars. And went to bed.
Pink pussy hats were fine for others, but I planned to dress in black. The march struck me as a serious event, given the horror show in Washington. (I keep waiting for Charles Manson to be offered a cabinet post.) For me, a cute pink hat didn't feel right. But as I was dressing, I pulled out a hanger that held a sober dark skirt and another one made of lace tiers in shades from red at the top to burgundy above my ankles. It matched my sign so I wore it. My husband wore a dress coat and fedora.
We got to Boston Common just ahead of the speeches. It was mobbed but also serene. I avoid crowds; they make me uncomfortable, but we were now in the biggest crowd I'd ever seen. A sea of people as far as I could see:
I felt great in that crowd. We talked to a few people around us and everyone was nice, friendly, and in solidarity. We maneuvered to a better spot to see the jumbotron, and cheered as our senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, said all the right things, followed by Mayor Walsh. There were songs and more speeches. And more speeches, and more.
We got restless and moved again, this time toward where we thought the march would start. We found that no one was sure about where that was, not even the cops and march volunteers. Finally the march began, and we were in a good spot to get moving. We took turns holding up the sign and kept to the edges of the crowd.
On Commonwealth Avenue we stopped marching to greet some friends watching from the sidewalk. I decided to park myself on a wall and join them to just watch for a while. I held up my poster as a steady river of people passed me, chanting and walking in unity, holding every kind of message for every liberal cause under the sun. Some memorable ones: "Angry Librarian." "Not Really a Sign Guy, But Jeez." "Now You've Pissed Off Grandma."
It felt wonderful to drink it all in, like a tonic. Or some clean mountain air. It was therapeutic. Optimistic. Hopeful. I felt better than I had since November. I still do.
These two women in black coats were complimenting my sign:
I don't know why. I was surprised at the number of marchers who admired it and signaled agreement or stopped to say nice things. I said nice things back. I was photographed dozens of times. (I tried to hide behind the sign if I could.) But the my message was hardly unique; I spotted four or five other people holding the same message. And we all bonded the moment we spotted each other.
Here's another favorite:
I never finished the march, but I didn't mind. It felt better to witness it. And as I watched, I had scores of interactions with people, and joined in one chant after another.
"Show me what Democracy LOOKS like!" "THIS is what Democracy looks like!"
For a couple of hours I watched an endless stream of marchers. It was heartening to see our numbers. It will be a while before I walk those blocks again without remembering them packed with people.
After 4 o'clock, the last marchers passed, followed by a squad of police on bikes. We shouted our thanks and headed home.
I'm going to keep the sign on the back of our front door for a while. It's a souvenir, a reminder to keep busy, and an inspiration.