Our day began pretty early with a bus ride to the train station. We weren’t the only ones taking public transit to the event. By the time our train got to the stop where we had to switch to a different train, it was already getting full. The train to St Paul was standing room only when we got on it and by the time we actually crossed the river into St Paul we were crammed in tight with more and more people squeezing on. We exploded out of the train at the Capitol stop and walked past the mall and up the hill to St Paul College parking lot E where we were to assemble for the march back down the hill to the Capitol.
The march was to begin at 11 and we were there around 10:15. And people kept coming. Soon the parking lot was crammed with women, children and male allies talking and complimenting each other on their signs. Sometimes a cheer would go up and we’d all cheer too with no idea why, but why not? As the time to march approached people had spilled outside the bounds of the parking lot, were spread out into a parking ramp, up a hill by the lot and around into another parking lot. And then drumming began and the crowd started to move and cheers and chanting broke out everywhere and then we came to a complete stop. And stood there and stood there.
This was the start of what the next hour was like. The street next to the parking lot was curb-to-curb marchers, the parking lot was still crammed with people, no one was moving and no one knew what the heck was going on. Bookman and I managed to wend our way through the crowd, over a snowbank, and down a short, wet, icy slope to the street crowd. Every now and then we’d get to walk forward a few steps before coming to a complete stop again.
To everyone’s credit, no one got angry. We’d chant, we’d chat, we’d joke. One woman joked that she had expected the march to be a lot longer. Women began breaking out the snacks for their kids and for sharing among their groups.Then suddenly everyone began to move and we got to keep moving. Cheers broke out and chanting and sign waving began in earnest. Finally we reached the main street at the top of the hill and turned the corner for the view down to the Capitol. There was a collective gasp and everyone started taking pictures with their phones.
Unbeknownst to us who had gathered in the parking lot, thousands of others had gone to the Capitol mall for the rally. It turns out we hadn’t been able to march because there were so many people there was nowhere for all of us to go! Looking down the hill it was a sea of signs and pink pussy hats, rainbow flags, and women and their allies. And there were thousands more behind us still, waiting to get out of the parking lot. Bookman and I looked at each other and we both started crying. All that standing around and waiting was worth it for that one moment.
We made our way slowly down the street. At one part there was a big, deep puddle. A woman turned to the elderly man behind her whom she did not know and said, you’ll want to move to your left, there’s a big puddle here. The man laughed and said, I’ve moved left all my life! And we all shifted over to make space for him and his wife and others to move around the puddle.
Finally we made our way onto the mall where we stood in the crowd and could hear the speakers and musicians. It was already after 12:30 when we got there, it had take over an hour and a half for us to march from the parking lot a little less than a mile away. The crowd on the mall was the most diverse gathering I have seen in a state that is 83% white. And it wasn’t just ethnic diversity present, there were blind and deaf and other differently abled folks. People of all ages, religions, sexualities, and genders were there too. It was beautiful. And the kindness! Strangers helping mothers pushing strollers get over curbs and snow and puddles. Someone would drop something and everyone nearby would nearly crash into each other as they all bent down to pick up the dropped item for the person. People reaching out to steady others over ice and snow. Everyone smiling and welcoming. We are here together. We are here for each other. We will refuse, rebel and resist.
The rally went until 2, but by 1:30 Bookman and I were exhausted. We began to make our way through the crowd and back to the metro rail station. No one had expected so many people and Metro Transit was scrambling to get extra trains and buses on the road. Even though we were all tired and wanting to get home, no one minded the wait, everyone was happy, energized, chatting and still taking pictures, still astonished at how many people had turned out.With 100,000 people there was only one arrest. A man with pepper spray aiming it into the crowds. The St Paul police remarked on how many people thanked them for their work at the march and rally. But we were also aware, and reminded by one of the speakers, how different the police and the press treated the Women’s March versus a Black Lives Matter march.
Friday was a foul day. Trump’s inauguration had me in a bad mood. But the Women’s March has lifted my spirits. The number of people who turned out across the United States and the supporting rallies around the world is truly spectacular. I went from feeling down in the dumps to feeling part of something so much bigger than myself. After the election in November I was devastated because it seemed like I wasn’t living in the country I thought I was. But after yesterday, I am not as worried. With so many women standing up to be counted here and around the world, no matter how bad things might get, no one will be fighting alone.
On a more domestic turn, the thaw we are having has delighted the Dashwoods. Oh the ground is frozen and there is still plenty of snow, but the temperatures are comfortable and the Dashwoods are out and about in the garden today. Here is some video I took of them enjoying a treat of okara (soybean mash, the stuff that is leftover after making soymilk) and eggshells. Elinor is the brown one, Marianne the black and white one, Margaret the all black one, and Mrs. Dashwood the black one with the white speckles.