Throughout the fall of 2016, I spent three days a week at physical therapy to exorcise the demons from my new knees. That summer I had ceramic installed to replace disintegrating bone and cartilage. Recovery was a long process, made worse by those who’d gone before and bragged about walking a mile six weeks after their surgeries.
At the PT office, Assistant Colleen and I yakked up a storm about how awful Donald Trump was and how Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in to win the presidential election. My new knees took me to Cleveland the last few weeks of the campaign and marched me around neighborhoods campaigning for Hillary.
After the election I took advantage of my leftover Medicare hours and returned to therapy. By then the PTSD from the election outcome had exploded in my lower back. Colleen and I groaned away our sorrows as I waited to be treated for ongoing knee therapy and newly acquired back pain.
One day in late December I walked in the door and she exclaimed, “let’s go to the Women’s March in DC!”
The Women’s March was a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump. I wasn’t clear what the message of the March was except that Trump had a vile reputation with women. But Washington is the motherland for old protesters like me and I was all in.
Colleen found the last two seats on an overnight bus. We brought old pillows and blankets to leave on our seats and light backpacks to carry on the March. Outside Chicago’s Union Station four hundred cold but jubilant marchers filled up bus after bus and drove off. One bus driver told us they had run out of buses around Chicago but were bringing one down from Kenosha. We gratefully boarded our heated bus three hours late.
At each of the two stops on the twelve-hour trip, the packed restaurants and bathrooms were abuzz with women in hand-knitted pink hats. The small bus caravan multiplied on the Pennsylvania Turnpike the closer we got to Washington. When our bus driver mistakenly pulled off the George Washington Parkway headed toward the heart of the March, I had to guide him to an improvised drop-off point behind Washington’s Union Station. We nervously deboarded, hoping our bus would be at that spot when we returned. We marched to the beat of Women- in-Construction drummers toward the National Mall. Joining 500 thousand ebullient demonstrators carrying hilarious and poignant signs, I still had no idea what the point of the March was. As we passed by portable toilets all along the way, it began to sink in. The toilets were for Trump’s Inauguration crowd the day before. This day, toilets were padlocked.
A young girl on her father’s shoulders passed by holding a homemade sign, “Hate Does Not Make America Great.” And I knew that’s what we were meant to demonstrate. And so we did. And so we are.