November 8, 2016 was a momentous day, and after recovering from our hangovers on the 9th, we made a spontaneous decision to travel to DC for the weekend of the inauguration. There were already some rumors of a “women’s march” to take place on January 21, but we booked our flights and hotel room before those plans were firmed up. We just wanted to go make our voices heard.
The following are two photo albums from the trip, one covering the inauguration on Friday 1/20 and the other covering the #WomensMarchOnWashington on Saturday 1/21.
For me, the most unexpected detail of this trip is how so many people who weren’t there have taken the time to try to explain to me “what really happened” on either of these two days. It’s a weird feeling to take the time to travel to an event, then have it mansplained to you by people who weren’t there.
Our first experience of this was shortly after we arrived in New York late on Sunday night. We had just driven a rental car from Washington up through Delaware and New Jersey, and we caught an Uber to our hotel. The driver — a stocky young Greek man with a baseball bat in the car — asked where we’d come from, and when we said we’d been in DC he started talking about the “riots” there and asked if we’d had any trouble.
I assured him we never even saw any anger, much less a “riot,” but he was undeterred from his point. He said I should see some of the coverage, “it was insane,” and he mentioned that he had stayed off the street the day before while there was a large women’s march in New York, because he didn’t want anything to happen to his vehicle. Then he added, in a stern and almost accusatory tone, “violence is never the answer!” As far as I know, the most violent thing to happen during the DC protests was a nasty little cut on the thumb of the driver of a limo that was destroyed, but I politely agreed with him and made small talk. His car, his baseball bat, his rules.
I’ve had similar exchanges with people who try to convince me that the crowds on Friday were actually much larger than we saw with our own eyes, or people telling me that the crowd on Saturday was exaggerated, or that there was a sinister air of hateful anger instead of the up-with-people lovefest that we had actually found ourselves immersed in.
These conversations make me want to go to more of these sorts of events, so that we can see the details for ourselves. And the good news is, it looks like there will be many more opportunities in the months and year ahead.
New York skyline as we approached on I-278, late Sunday night 1/22