Okay, so liberals are special snowflakes. Do you know what happens when a million snowflakes get together? You get A STORM. Watch out. Winter is Coming.
Yesterday, the first Winter Storm happened. I'm talking about the Women's March. On January 21, the day after Trump's inauguration, about half a million people marched in Washington DC to support women's rights, equality, diversity, and inclusion (and yes, to voice their opposition to Donald Trump). They were joined by millions more in hundreds of cities across the US and the world. In the Bay Area, where we live, there were 3 marches to choose from: Oakland, San Jose, and San Francisco. The Pea and I originally planned to attend the San Jose rally, but when it turned out she needed to go to San Francisco to buy pointe shoes, we decided to attend the San Francisco march instead. Armed with our pink pussycat hats, rain jackets, and rally posters, we headed up to the city to add ourselves to the headcount of people who wanted to be a part of something big. Boy, what a crazy, amazing, inspiring experience it was!
We arrived at the Millbrae BART station at about 1:40 PM, 80 minutes before the start of the rally at 3:00 PM. I thought that would be more than enough time to get to San Francisco, buy some pointe shoes for The Pea, and join the rally -- but I hadn't counted on the massive crowds at the BART station. It felt like everyone in the Bay Area was at this station! That was when I realized just how huge this rally was going to be. The lines to purchase BART tickets were unbelievable. Normally long lines like this stress me out, but it already felt like we were at the rally because we were surrounded by a sea of rally-goers, carrying signs and wearing pink pussy hats. My impatience melted away and I soaked in the atmosphere and let myself feel the excitement running through the crowd.
Trains were standing room only, packed like the London Tube or Tokyo Subway during rush hour: barely enough room to sway, zero personal space! Once off the train, there were more bottlenecks by the escalators and stairs, so by the time we exited the station, it was 3:00PM. We rushed through our shopping errand and went to the rally area. The closer to the center we walked, the denser the crowd grew, until it was like trying to walk into a wall. There simply wasn't room to move!
Somehow we ended up in the area behind the stage, but we were still too far away to catch even a glimpse of the speakers, so we contented ourselves with listening (or trying to listen), while looking at all the awesome signs that people were carrying.
Here are just a few of the hundreds of signs we saw.
As one speaker after another took the stage, it began to rain -- actually, it began to pour -- and the rain never really stopped after that. But the wet weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of the people there.
The final performance of the night was by singer and activist Joan Baez. The Pea was so excited to see her, because Baez had performed at the small peace rally at her high school, the week after the Presidential election. I had told her that Joan Baez was famous, but I don't think it actually sunk in until she saw the massive crowd cheer when Joan Baez was announced!
After Joan Baez's final song, the actual march began, and people began to shuffle out of Civic Center Plaza and onto Market Street. As twilight settled in, San Francisco City Hall lit up in pink! What a beautiful sight!
The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium also lit up in pink, so the entire Civic Center area was lit in a rosy pink glow as marchers slowly made their way from the Civic Center to Justin Herman Plaza in the Embarcadero. It was so crowded that it wasn't quite so much a march as it was a shuffle. Every minute or so, we'd move an inch. There were pockets of space, but as people left the open spaces of the Civic Center and headed for Market Street, there were huge bottlenecks where everyone was at a standstill. Despite the snail's pace, no one complained or pushed or shoved. Everyone was just happy to be there.
It was getting late, so we decided to leave before reaching the march's final destination. As we entered the BART subway station to head back home, we saw that marchers who had left earlier had propped up their rally signs by the station entrance, out of the rain. The number of signs was overwhelming, and the rally wasn't even close to being over.
Some had even left their battery operated candles, so the whole thing looked like a cross between an impromptu art display and a shrine. We took a moment to look through the signs and appreciate the humor and the sentiments behind them. Before we boarded our train, I added my signs to the collection. I hope the BART people let those signs stay for a long time.
The Pea and I arrived back home at 8:30 PM. We were utterly exhausted, but exhilarated. We are both fired up to play our part during these next 4 years! I've never in my life been part of a rally that large (San Francisco crowd estimates were 100,000-150,000). The Women's March is now being called the largest one-day protest in US history, and I'm so happy that I was a part of it. I'm even happier that I got to experience it with The Pea. I know the event really made an impression on her, and I hope this is the start of a lifetime of activism for her.