The Boston Women’s March drew a huge, vibrant, and focused crowd. Ninety thousand registered and 175,000 showed up! And, had the T service properly gauged the event’s need, thousands more would have attended.
Was this really a week ago? Have the catastrophic series of lies and executive orders really happened between then and now? I want my own record of the 21st, so even though this feels like ancient history, here goes.
Like so many others, my day began at the T tracks. A friend and I drove to a stop just east of the D Line’s western terminus. Two packed cars had just gone by and the next one, already stuffed to the gills, only picked up about ten people.
At that point, most of the crowd migrated across the tracks, including my friend and me. The idea was to catch an empty west-bound train, loop around and beat out all the people waiting on the inbound side. But, the next three OUTBOUND trains were stuffed. Clearly, everyone down the line toward Boston had had the same bright idea. That meant that until the T transported everyone east of us to Boston, there would be no catching a train in either direction.
Meanwhile the waiting crowd, while not festive exactly, was patient and forbearing. The absence of restless complaint was one of many indicators that this was no ordinary day. Even as the crowd came to the inescapable conclusion that public transport was hopeless, we were buoyed by the energy of a protest already in progress. Pussy hats everywhere! A determined grace. Inventive signs! Some train riders held their posters against the windows for our benefit. My favorite was: “CTRL ALT DEL”.
I kept noticing a chill between my shoulder blades. My friend wilted visibly. After about forty minutes, we returned to my house without a plan. Uber seemed unlikely. No other T stop could promise passage. Fortunately, K. had the brilliant idea to drive us to South Station via the Pike. From there it’s a relatively short walk to the Common.
And so, I added another layer, offered my friend an out (she said, “No. I want to go!”) and off we went. It was a breeze. At the curb, however, my neighbor realized that she wasn’t feeling well enough, so she returned to Newton with K. and I hoofed it alone.
I walked fast and without real certainty about the quickest route, even though I worked nearby once upon a time and walked a version of this route nightly for a couple of years. I thought the streets would be more familiar, but gave little heed to worry or self-condemnation. Cold and determination sharpened focus. From nowhere, I heard the phrase: “We die alone. We protest alone.” Not terribly rational, but it made sense at the time.
Blocks before reaching the Common, clumps of people in parkas bearing signs and wearing Pussy Hats started showing up on street corners. Shortly thereafter but long before reaching Tremont Street, the roar of an already assembled crowd made itself heard.
Once there, I was glad to be ‘alone’. I don’t like crowds. Usually, I’m planning my exit pretty immediately or more accurately, wondering with a sense of dread just how long I’ll have to accommodate others’ timetables beyond my tolerance point. Free of all that! It was wonderful to wander the periphery, change directions willynilly, and take pictures whenever, all the while knowing I could leave in the very next moment if I so chose. Couldn’t hear or see the speakers, but the energy of the people all around was inspiring enough.
I shot this video on my way out, probably around 12:30. People were still streaming in on every pathway.
On my way to Government Center to catch a train home, I stopped at the Old Granary Cemetery. It seemed especially quiet and secluded after the Common, though less than a block distant. I left my lapel cloth at the grave of John Hancock’s “servant”, known and memorialized only as ‘Frank’. Two other African Americans are buried here: Phyllis Wheatley and the victims of the Boston Massacre, one of whom was half-African American and half-Native American, Crispus Attucks.
Now it’s Sunday, the 29th and I’ve just returned from another protest, this time at Copley Square. This was in response to the outrageous Muslim ban, put in place by executive order at roughly quarter to five on Friday afternoon, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you. Last night before sleep, I watched one video clip after another of protestors at airports all over the country. I teared up at the sight of them cheering when detainees were released; at the sight of pro bono immigration lawyers sitting on airport floors with their laptops open, ready to offer counsel.
Politics as theater. The protester in blue goes by the name ‘Sister Eunice X’. She gave me her business card, which reads: “The Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence / Promoting joy & expiating guilt!” (And yes, I am very short, but they were shod in very high heels). More about them here.
Two protests in two weeks will not be sustainable for this aging broad, but for now I feel pleasantly tired and grateful in the extreme to have a home to come back to. We’ll have a fire within the hour and later, salmon for dinner. Make that: shrimp risotto (with oyster mushrooms, shallots, spinach and Parmesan) and sautéed bok choy.