It was overwhelming, but surprisingly chill.
Have you ever tried to get 13 people ready to go and out the door with a firm deadline? Normally, it's chaos. Last year, it was easy. We piled into cars and got to the train station at what seemed like a too-early time. Luckily, we were at the end of the train line so we were able to get on and get seats, most of us. Even that far out, that train was packed full and there were times when it stopped and couldn't let anyone else one, because we were at capacity and beyond. Where I'm from, that usually leads to fisticuffs. But not that day.
When we finally emerged on the Mall, it seemed… sparse. I started to think that maybe the detractors were right, that people weren't going to show up. That they'd been swayed by the ones who said "it's not safe." But as the minutes ticked by, the Mall filled up. Slowly, at first, and then all of a sudden, there were people EVERYWHERE. We clambered through shrubbery and over landscaping to try to get closer to the stage to hear the speakers. We helped women old enough to be our mothers climb trees so they could see and hear.
It was… big. It's almost impossible to overstate how big this thing was. And not just physically – on an emotional, spiritual level, it was huge. To look out over this sea of people, wearing hats, holding signs, holding each other, chanting, singing, dancing… It was a display of unity that has never been seen before.
And it was literally worldwide. There were individuals doing their own marches. There were clumps of people, groups of people, rivers of people, seas of people, taking to the streets to say "you will not ignore us."
At one point, the group splintered and half of us tried to make our way to a side street where there would be more room to move and maybe breathe because it was CROWDED on the Mall. We pushed through and kept pushing and that's when it really hit me: we were three full blocks from the Mall and still making our way through a solid mass of people and it was like that in EVERY direction.
Eventually we heard that the formal march component of the day would be cancelled because of the overwhelming number of people. Since phone/internet service was sporadic, at best, not everyone got the memo and we did march a bit after all.
When things died down, we made our way to the bar to regroup, decompress, and start to digest this thing we had just be involved in. The group trickled in, with some additions we'd picked up along the way, and we spent the late afternoon/early evening watching the news on the bar TV, with reports coming in from around the world.
We weren't just part of history – we were MAKING IT that day. And we knew it.