(Graphic by Divya Gadangi)It was a chilly 4:30am morning in Brooklyn, and I was bundled up and headed to the Women’s March in D.C. My bus was packed with pink pussy hats, mostly women — and three guys. No one was quite awake yet. But no one wants coffee yet. It’s too damn early.
I knew the organizer Sara and her sister Amy, but otherwise I didn’t know a soul. I’d nabbed one highly coveted seat to get to D.C.; I needed to be there, to represent, to feel connected in a world that seemed more and more divided. For me, this trip was semi ambitious — it was the first time I’d done anything this physically challenging since I’d recovered from cancer treatment. The idea of hoofing it and standing around for eight hours made me a little nervous, but for some reason I wanted to do this on my own, without my husband, mainly in the company of women.
It wasn’t more than 10 minutes before I’d met the sparkly Yoon and Kathleen, two moms sitting across from me, cracking open their hard-boiled eggs. We bonded over our Brooklyn neighborhoods, the mission at hand, and soon we were snapping a selfie together and swapping Instagram handles. Even if we tried for 20 minutes to figure out which was the right way to tag each other. #Olds.
It wasn’t a comfortable day. We were packed in like sardines, but we accepted the discomfort joyfully. We were there to make a difference. To be heard. To show that this is what democracy looks like. And it looked like women in wheelchairs. Women of color. Women over the age of 70. Despite the hordes of people, there was very little jostling and so many moments of generosity. At one point I had to plop down on the hard ground to give my knees a break and my new friends made a circle around me so no one would step on me. While waiting in a colossal line for the port-a-potty, an older woman behind me, unprompted, split her coveted tissue in half to hand to me. It took me a minute to realize, “oh for the bathroom, right.”
Of all the messages from the Women’s March, the one that stuck with me the most was the power that occurs when women link arms. We have an unspoken understanding. A heartfelt kinship. We don’t have to be biologically linked, to feel that — it comes naturally.
As the bus headed back to Brooklyn, Yoon and Kathleen cracked open a bottle of Shiraz and handed me a cup. A DVD of Thelma and Louise played on the overhead TVs, even though the sound went out after the first 20 minutes. Seats glowed with little phone lights; some slept, using jackets as pillows; and I drifted off, watching the wordless film I’d seen so many times. In the still and quiet I felt the comfort and power of sisterhood.
We aren’t anywhere close to being done with this movement — this is no one-time shot. We’ve been yanked out of our comfort zones and we’re taking time out of our lives to make phone calls, write emails, or join marches and protests to make our voices heard. But we can harken back to this day, and plan many more like it in the weeks and years to come, and know that when we’re surrounded by millions of our sisters we can create force to be reckoned with.
This week we share stories from all kinds of sisterly love:
- Deb Copaken shares the time her four sisters came together to say goodbye
- Angela Bronner Helm interviews singer Abby Dobson of #SayHerName
- Jody Jones remembers the best friend she lost
- Penny Wrenn on what it’s like to be black with a white sister
- And we share stories from 9 women on why they marched last week
Doing it for our own damn selves,