Editor’s note: This is part one of a three-part series, detailing the author’s experience at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Jan. 21.
On the way to Washington, D.C., on the day of the inauguration, I sunk into my seat. I read news about President Donald Trump cutting endowments for the humanities and arts, and taking down pages from the White House website.
Though mere drops in the bucket of policies and promises the new president has postured, these changes are damaging and indicative of what is to come. And how many drops in the bucket can we take before it fills up and drowns us all? Suffice to say I became a sad, sad boy.
Luckily I was surrounded by three strong women, one of them my own dear mother, who are also three strong participants in the labor force — it takes a lot to raise a kid — and three wonderful human beings.
Though it felt to me like we were driving straight into the abyss or straight into the dragon’s den, to them it appeared to be like a nice weekend getaway. They, three longtime friends, caught up, reminisced and speculated. At times they laughed and scolded, complained and commiserated. But mostly they idly chatted, inquiring about each other’s daily lives.
Their buoyancy as a trio, despite their full knowledge of the event of Friday and its gravitas, confused and even angered me. Those negative feelings tossed and turned inside my brain as I longed to take part in their conversation, as light and pleasant as a warm breeze.
At a stop at Starbucks, I finally caved and asked one of my marching companions, Renee, a longtime family friend, about how they could act so normally in times like these.
Madison community marches in solidarity with women around the country and worldThe footsteps of women in Madison echoed those from around the world as they marched in solidarity Saturday to protest the upcoming presidency Read…
With a thoughtful pause, she asked me if I had ever run my hands under the water after my mother had washed dishes. I told her I had.
“How did it feel?” She asked.
I remembered it being hot, and my hands buzzed as I recalled the pain.
She read my mind. She said that to her and my mother, it felt like nothing, her hands were more than used to the pain of near-scalding water. This was how she explained how women were able to keep calm and carry on in a time like this, and in times just like it from the past.
This most recent defeat, though especially devastating, comes for these three women as part of a long list of defeats and victories they have faced as individuals and as women. These defeats and victories have scarred their psyches, leaving them tough, but soft, like leather.
Hearing this, I could feel my own emotions toughening as well. Though the inauguration of our first orange president was devastating, I knew the power of women would only serve as fuel in the protests and policy-making to come.
And hey, there was a pretty big protest the next day.
On the rest of the way to D.C. we gabbed about college romances.