By Kaye Wilkinson Barley
Originally published in Meanderings and Musings, January 23, 2017
In the post immediately before this, I told you all why I was going to DC to march.
What I did not tell you is how it was really a day to day, minute to minute thing.
It won’t be a secret for some of you who know me well, although some of you will find it a little hard to believe.
My friend Gina Gilmore shared this on my FB page and struck home, I must say.
Here’s a little story.
When I returned home from DC, I asked Don Barley if he was proud of me for marching. He said he was, of course, proud of me. Always. (He is such a good husband ? ). He asked if I was proud of myself, and I said, “yes, of course.”
He then said to me, “you should be proud of yourself for just getting on that bus. I know that was hard.”
That was THE hardest thing. A bus full of people I didn’t know.
If it had not been for the fact that I knew our friends Amber Dollyhigh-Kwong and Pat Taylor were going to be there, I could very easily at the very last minute changed my mind and not gone.
Introverts may not always strike you as your version of what you think an introvert is, but believe me, we come in all disguises.
So, yes. I am SO proud of myself for getting on that bus that it makes me cry.
One thing that helped also is that I got on the bus with names of several friends who weren’t able to be in DC.
Some of them were marching elsewhere, some unable to march.
So, ALL of these people went to DC with me – in my pocket. And I was comforted by having them along.
We, the women from the Facebook Group Pantsuit Nation, Boone/Western NC, pulled out of the WalMart parking lot in Boone, NC Friday night at midnight.
Almost immediately, the adventure began.
We broke down.
After a few minutes, things seem to right themselves..
(Do not ask me – I have no idea how bus things work. But in this case, the age old fix seemed to be to turn it off, then turn it back on. Voilà!).
And then, about an hour later, on the other side of Wilkesboro, it happened again.
This time it took a little longer for things to right themselves.
Right themselves, they did.
Our driver, who was great, kept us informed and kept in touch with the bus headquarters.
He let us know they were looking for a different bus, but wanted to make sure we were all okay and willing to keep going.
The response was a resounding YES!
So we kept going.
Then we got stopped for about 40 minutes behind a bad accident waiting for it to be cleared.
Then we changed over to our new bus outside of Greensboro. So. Running a little behind schedule, but everyone remained in good spirits.
I tried to go to sleep, but I managed to only doze a little off and on.
And then, it seemed like just all of a sudden, we were at our final rest stop before getting into DC.
The rush was on for hairbrushes and toothbrushes.
The Bus was awake and rocking to Aretha’s RESPECT.
Someone, and I am determined to find out who, played what I do believe was THE perfect playlist for going and coming back from the march.
On our drive into DC and to RFK Stadium, in addition to seeing iconic monuments, we saw more buses than I could have imagined.
And it wasn’t hard to tell they were filled with women who were, like us, going to march.
The pink hats helped.
We saw women walking, arm in arm.
We saw women walking with their children.
Walking with their partners.
We saw men pushing baby strollers, many of whom were proudly sporting pink hats.
I did not see one instance of discord, did not encounter a single rude person.
We walked the two plus miles from RFK Stadium along beautiful Capitol Hill to the rally point at Independence and 3rd.
I am SO proud to have been a part of it. And tickled to have my friend Pat Taylor to experience it with.
|me and Pat Taylor|
Here are some random pictures, along with more of my thoughts about the day.
Most of the wonderful old brownstones we passed on our walk had signs in their yards with MLK quotes.
Many of the residents stood at their front doors and waved.
It was especially moving to see some mothers with babies on their hips waving at us. They knew we were marching for those babies.
Pat and I stopped and had some breakfast and much needed coffee and were still having a hard time believing we were really there.
That’s what we kept saying to one another.
There was a sea of people in front of us.
A sea of people behind us.
Once we reached the rally point, we learned that was as far as we’d be going. The news guy showed us pictures of the streets from where we were standing beyond the White House and they were full.
The originally estimated crowd of 200,000 had grown to approximately 500,000.
Too many people to march the planned route, so we just spread out and stood.
Proud to be there.
And still, every single person we encountered was kind.
People apologized as they brushed by to move somewhere else.
We smiled at one another.
It was . . .
We were not far from the Rally Stage, but honestly? Don’t have a clue as to who was up there, or what they were saying. It wasn’t, for me, the point. The sheer numbers of people in those streets protesting peacefully. That was the point. Although I am a little irritated at myself for not paying attention to catch Gloria Steinem. dang.
After a couple hours of milling about near the rally point, Pat and I started our walk back to RFK Stadium.
We stopped and had a burger at Good Stuff Eatery (YUM!). We were able to snag a table and saw, for the first time, pictures and video of the march.
And the marches going on around the world.
And it made me cry.
The number of people marching in DC and everywhere – everywhere! Can you believe the numbers?! – sent a very loud message. If Trump is too ignorant to get it, Congress certainly should.
SOMETHING needs to come of the incredibleness (did I just make up a word? or just misspell one?) of January 21st.
I still have a lot of thoughts to process.
500,000 of us in DC. In the middle of the largest one day protest in our history, but I did not get the full impact of that, really, until I saw overhead shots of the crowd on TV. And I’m still not down from that high.
Continuing our walk back to RFK Stadium to get on our bus, Pat and I could not pass up a little bit of shopping at Eastern Market which has been on Capitol Hill since 1873.
Nobody loves shopping more than me and Pat.
I wanted to bring something home, of course.
A souvenir to help me remember.
But something other than a TeeShirt.
I found David Kessler. A local DC artist, and bought this print on canvas.
It embodies the architecture Pat and I admired and enjoyed on our walk along Capitol Hill.
It wasn’t until I was paying for it that Mr. Kessler told me it was a painting of the John Philip Sousa house, which was about two blocks away from where we were. Cool.
Finally boarding the bus, a little tired, but energized by being a part of something so big – so important, it was hard to believe it was over.
It was time to go home.
And the music was playing.
And there was our incredible play list back again.
Lean on Me.
Could there have been a more appropriate song on which to end this day?
The wine was flowing, there was singing, and then we all settled in for quiet conversations, self-reflection and a little sleep.
We got back into Boone about 3 a.m., and I got home about 3:30.
Woke Donald, said, “Hi, Honey, I’m home.”
And fell dead asleep.
When I finally woke up sometime around 1 pm Sunday afternoon, I spent some time going through Facebook, reading comments on my posts, and laughed a little and cried a little.
Thanks for going with me, everyone. You guys are the best and I love you.