A crowd fills Independence Avenue during the Women’s March on Washington, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

I overpacked.

I was in Washington D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington. A million other women and men would meet me at the capital to stand in solidarity against the election of Donald Trump and the racism, sexism and general bigotry he represents.

Being a typical Arizonan, I expected to freeze in the East Coast weather. Clad in my pink pussy-cat hat (bravely knitted by my older brother), a tank top, a long sleeved shirt, a vest, gloves, hand warmers and my winter coat, I was sweating like summer in Phoenix on the overflowing metro train.

I was standing next to an older couple, Karen and Jim Johnson from Sonoma, California who were just as overheated as me. It was only in the 50s, so us West Coasters had overestimated our weather necessities. We had ten stops left until the start of the march, and they told me they were marching for their daughters and granddaughters.

Our conversation was briefly cut off when the train stopped at a station and one of her daughters Sarah yelled, "O.K. ladies, let’s try to make room!" Politeness is usually a rare commodity on public transportation, but this space was full of kindness.

The rally started at 10:00 a.m., and my heroes ran the guest list: Madonna, America Ferrera, Gloria Steinem, Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson, Janelle Monae and more. 

They sparked a fire in the audience. Everyone surrounding me had goose bumps, and it wasn’t the weather. With each of these women’s speeches, a deafening roar thanked them from a sea of pink hats.

By 1 p.m., we were ready to march. There were so many of us, the organizers had to go with Plan B: Instead of one march, we’d have to have three parallel marches, all going in the same direction — the White House.

Women were crying. They were yelling. They were laughing. It was an incredible sight and an overwhelming feeling to be surrounded by women who were not afraid to be too much.

The feeling that floated over the rally was one of love. We were all crowded together like sardines, but if anyone stepped on your foot, you were guaranteed to get a “pardon me.” They tried not to say “sorry” — and when they did, a discussion was sparked about why women too often apologize when they have done nothing wrong.

When a group chanted, "hands too small, can’t build a wall" with signs in the air and pride in their steps, I laughed.

When a group of women held a sign that said, "we march for survivors," I cried.

I have never felt quite so safe surrounded by half-a-million people. It felt like each one of us was coated by blanket of a million protectors, a million caring mothers, and a million best friends.

All the while, we knew about 2.5 million of those people surrounded us across the world. And I knew 36,000 of those people surrounded me from Arizona.

I hope this cloak of strength continues to keep us warm far into the next four years. As the millions of today’s marchers warned: we might need it.


Christianna Silva is a UA journalism student currently working in Phoenix as the Don Bolles Fellow.