What do you do when things go wrong; when the best laid plans are turned upside down? As soon as the Women’s March in Washington was announced, Carrie, Caitlin and I excitedly made plans to go. Details quickly fell into place—Carrie’s mom and a friend were going, so we decided to make it a party of five, and take a round-trip Rally Bus from Stamford.
We stayed the night in Connecticut to make the early bus to Washington. At 1 AM we rose, laced up our sneakers, ate a quick breakfast, and packed our snacks for the long bus ride. Despite the lack of sleep, we were eager with anticipation of the trip.
The Stamford bus station was eerily quiet and empty, but for the homeless sleeping in the shadowy corners of the station. Soon, women of all ages sporting Pussy Hats started arriving, carrying colorful, homemade signs. I was touched to see a smiling trio of three-generations — a silver haired woman in her 80s, her middle-aged daughter, and teenage granddaughter. One bus arrived, and as our fellow travelers boarded, we silently wished them a speedy and safe trip. Those of us remaining stood indoors and waited, certain we would follow soon.
But our bus never came. After three hours of waiting, and a series of sorry excuses from Rally, the sickening feeling sank in that we were not going to DC. We were crestfallen (and a little angry), but undeterred and committed to marching, we came up with a new plan: NYC.
Trains from Stamford to NYC are plentiful, and we arrived at a sleepy Grand Central Station at 6:45 AM. Groggy, peckish, and desperate for coffee, we landed at Scotty’s Diner on Lex and 39th Street, where a cheerful waiter welcomed and escorted us to a large, round table in the back room. We solved the world’s problems over omelets, bagels, lox and coffee, an ad hoc Gloria Steinem “talking circle.”
Restored and refreshed, we walked to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. It was still early, which gave us a chance to talk to other marchers and soak up the diverse group assembling — first a trickle, then a flood, until we were packed as tightly as a rush hour subway car. When the march started, it took us an hour to move ½ a block!
NYC was at its glorious best: outspoken, creative, vital, funny, and mischievous. 400,000+ of us laughed, chanted, cheered, and waved wildly original and personal signs, relishing the comradery and common cause. The crowd remained peaceful and orderly and the hopeful mood spread through Midtown and spilled into Grand Central where throngs of people stood in costumes with signs.
Riding the train back to Connecticut and reflecting on the day, I was struck by how we managed to transform a rotten streak of luck and turn it into an unforgettable and uplifting day.