I marched on Saturday in Washington. I was one of half a million. All reasons and topics as to why people marched have been touched on again and again. But what I can tell you differently is about my getting there.
My alarm went off at 4:45am. I was driving to my pick up destination by 5:15 when I realized I had forgotten tampons. I was on my second day of bleeding, which means the flow is so heavy I’m not quite sure how I stay alive. Which also means I needed tampons. A lot of tampons.
I boarded a bus, which held 47 people, only 2 of which were men. There was an air of excitement and unrest as most of us had received little sleep the night before. There was also luggage, lots of luggage, and cackeling, lots of cackeling. The over head bins were stuffed with baked goods, a box of ponchos found in a basement from the 1950s, first aid kits, rolls of toilet paper, hand wipes, and tampons. We were women. We were overly prepared.
Sitting in the front row behind the driver so I could watch his every move as I don’t like relinquishing control to strangers, we became backseat drivers. “Michael, it’s cold, can you turn the air down? It’s blowing in my face.” “Michael, the folks in the back of the bus are hot. Can you turn the air back up?” All this back and forth caused fog on Michael’s windows, as well as most others on the bus. Condensation ran down and Michael repeatedly wiped as some of froze and the others sweated. “Michael, can you fix the fog? We can’t see.”
Then there was the bathroom situation. We all know these bathrooms- cramped, smelly from the contents of our bodies not having anywhere to go but sit at the bottom of the bowl and slosh around with every bump of the bus, and really a bad spot to sit for those in the back. I wiped the toilet seat down as I couldn’t hover for the jolting around, and realized I used all the toilet paper to do so. I reached my hand ever so carefully down inside the bowl and tore off the top half which thank god was still dry. I am not a drip drier. As I came out my friend was going in. Realizing she’d have no TP, I asked the ladies for a roll. As I walked back to give it to her, she was already coming back out, and we were met in the middle by a lady puking in a garbage bag from the stench of the chemicals in the toilet bowl. “Michael, there’s no toilet paper, no hand soap, and no paper towels. Can you prepare the bathroom better?”
Four hours later we made it to Washington. The streets were cramped and it took several detours to be able to park at Union Station. Along the way, people kept waving to us and we commented how friendly and upbeat everyone seemed. Pulling into the station, an attendant came to the drivers window. Our driver seemed perplexed and held up his parking permit once more and the attendant replied, “I see your permit, but what about your bus?”
Michael knew something had been wrong with the bus for who knows how long, but we’d already proven to him that he probably should keep the issue to himself. We didn’t need the normal step stool to get off the bus because the bus was leaning so badly that the step stool was higher than the door side of the bus, which was about only an inch off the ground. The attendant approached and said us turning was the scariest thing he’d seen all day.
The reason why this was the scariest is because the woman of the march were just as prepared for whatever may happen and excited and cackeling as those on our bus were. The spirit of Washington was lively but patient and happy and far from any encounter being rude.
Our bus didn’t matter to us because we were women. Prepared. Happy. And even on our periods.