A March for Love
On January 21, 2017 the Women's March took place in select cities in the United States and all over the world. It has been described as the biggest protest in U.S. History. And, to think about it, my heart swells with a pride and empowerment that I would not have known if I wasn't there.
I wasn't 100% sure about attending from the beginning, I had to think about a lot of factors, such as transportation. I had just recently gotten married and share a car with my husband, and we had just moved two and half hours away from L.A. Not only was distance an issue, but I was nervous. I had read about how some of the protests at the presidential inauguration had become violent. My mind weighed options, my heart flipped.
It was 11am on January 20th, I was in my pjs drinking coffee and messaging a friend from Azusa. Already a friend who lived north of L.A. had asked me to join, but meeting up with her did not seem feasible since we would be taking such different routes to get there. My friend from Azusa invited me join her when she saw me click the "interested" option on the Women's March L.A. Facebook event. She offered to meet up at her apartment and to take the metro together from there. She even suggested that I could drive down that night and sleepover since she knew I lived so far away. It was becoming more real. My decision was changing from abstract to action.
Around 6pm that night my husband and I went to the gym, we stretched and warmed up and then separated to different workout areas, him to lift some more weights and me to get on the elliptical. I hadn't worked out in weeks, and it had been killing me. But getting on that elliptical was exactly what I needed. It boosted my confidence, refreshed my mind and I went at my workout hard. The whole time thinking of the march, thinking of what it stood for: LGBT rights, Black Lives Matter, Global Warming, Immigrant rights, Women's Rights, and a stand against Donald Trump, our new president.
I thought of my LGBT friends, my friends of color, my friends who immigrated here, my friends concerned for the environment and protesting at DAPL, my friends who have had abortions or who have gone to Planned Parenthood. I thought of all the people in similar situations that my friends were in, people I didn't know, but who are also affected by Trump's policies and these issues. And then I thought of me.
I thought of my rights and I thought of the children I don't have, but will someday. I thought of my daughter, and then my son. Two people who do not exist yet, but who I will want to share this with, to share love, peace and humanity with.
I made my decision to march. It was definite. On that elliptical machine, I had decided that I was going to take a stand and protest. And my mind wandered off to being a great-grandmother and recalling the story for my grandkids. Sharing the memories of a march of peace, a march for love and justice.
That night I made three sandwiches, one for me, one for my husband and one for my friend Josie, from Azusa. I set the alarm for 5:00am and told my husband I'd have to drop him off at work early. I was too excited to sleep.
The next morning I jumped at the sound of my alarm and raced to get ready in time. My husband and I somehow managed to get out the door early. I dropped him off and we said our goodbyes. He was nervous for me. He had described the march as "a bunch of rowdy women" and it made me smile to think of how much power WE, the marchers, would have.
I began my long trek back towards L.A., leaving the desert behind me. I was angsty-- full of frustration and anger from the inauguration I had watched the day before and from all the hate that had come from it. I prayed in the car and asked God to bless the march. When I finished, I noticed a rainbow in the sky-- a rainbow is a promise from God.
I arrived, sleepy and excited. Josie and I met two of her friends at the metro. And then we were off. At each stop more and more people piled on. Women, men and children of all ages, sizes, colors and with various shades of pink and beautifully decorated signs. Finally the metro became too full. Around the third or fourth stop we couldn't let any more marchers on. My eyes couldn't believe what I was seeing, the amount of dedication these people had. Just like me, we were all committed to fight.
It was strange for me riding on the metro as I remembered my last time on public transportation being last summer in India. I had taken the train to my internship site and would often ride in the women's car; surrounded by women, so colorful, so strong. And it was so empowering-- despite the fact that it was a result of horrific crimes and sexism.
It hit me though, how ironic it was to be on a metro full of people supporting women's rights and the rights of so many others, after riding in an exclusive car for women all summer. I wanted to cry because of how amazing it was.
However, my mind could not stay on that thought for too long as we finally made it to Little Tokyo and were making our way to the march! The four of us (Josie, her two friends and I) made our way to Hill and 3rd street where we got lost in a giant crowd. On the way we were given free Pakistani food, the curry scent reminding me of India (again!). The men passing out the food were so kind. We arrived at Hill and 3rd and waited around trying to figure out where we were all supposed to meet up.
In the midst of our confusion some motorcycles zoomed by and cleared the way for Miley Cyrus and the Happy Hippie Foundation. I was so busy videoing the motorcycles, that it didn't hit me that it was Miley until she passed by. It was so cool to see her marching with us, not posting about it, but actually being there with us.
The march was beautiful. There were families, babies, puppies and lots and lots of love. People were so kind, so gracious. All of us in good spirits. It was a glorious show of peace and love in a world that has seemed to be overrun by hate.
I marched. People have asked me what I marched for and I tell them I was marching for my rights and the rights of others, I was marching for what I believe in.