Because I promised I would help a friend move, I’m not marching today. So I can’t speak to that experience, of what marching on the common would be.
I went to the local square to get coffee, and I couldn’t help but full out bawl in public. Mothers and daughters smiling and laughing and holding signs that say Love Trumps Hate. Groups of older women chatting with college-age women, all wearing pussy hats. Men–fathers, boyfriends, husbands, partners, friends, allies–walking and holding signs and being present. The subway stop being so packed that people were lining up on the stairs (which changed my mind about going into work this morning - my space on the train today can go to someone else who is marching). People not even bothering with the subway and just heading straight for the bridge to walk their way downtown. I’ve never, not once in three years, seen my square absolutely packed at ten in the morning.
I’m not marching today–though I wish I was–but even the little taste I got of the global movement happening today was overwhelming, and overwhelmingly positive.
And I think the thing that will stick with me the longest, as I stood staring into a packed subway car, and making my decision that today was not a day for work (obvious, in retrospect), an older woman inside the stuffed car turned over her shoulder to look at me. Her face was lined, wrinkled and framed by flyaway grey-white hair. She smiled wryly, eyes bright as she took in my expression as I wondered if I could squeeze into the car, and said:
“March to march.”
Suddenly I felt so young…so very, very, very young. How many marches has she been to, lived through. How many obstacles and barriers did she battle against and bruise herself with as she broke them down; how many nights did she lie awake angry or cry herself to sleep over the unfairness and toughness of it all. How many times did she wonder: am I doing enough? when will it ever be enough? will it ever end? How many decades of fighting, how many marches has she done so we could have this one, today–march to march–and yet here she is again. She is the reason I get to go to college, to study science. She is the reason I get to marry whom I want, or not marry at all. She is the reason I get to decide if I want children, and if so, when. She and all the women who came before me and fought for our rights are the reason we continue to march, because we all know our fight is not over. It never was over, not when feminism is still a dirty word to many, not when feminism for so many others does not recognize and respect intersectionality. In many ways–in frustratingly, disheartening ways–it seems as if this fight just beginning.
I know it is not. I know, because one old woman looked at me today, and said march to march. And I understood in a way I never had before. This fight has been going on for ages, but today, for me, it is only the beginning. Today is when I put one foot in front of the other. Not because I want to, or because I’m inspired. I will do it, because I need to. No more excuses. I do that, because then I am walking behind her. I am at her back, to support her and all she has done. I am at her back, so that one day, when she finally stops walking, there will others to take her place at the front. I can take her place at the front, and that starts today.
Today, I begin to march.