Welcome to Capitol Hill, Hal.
The day before the inauguration, I worked from home. Traffic was terrible because the roads around my neighborhood were closing on Thursday morning, and residents of Capitol Hill were scrambling to get to work before the chaos started.
I sat in bed, the only light coming from my laptop, and zoned in on the work I had set out to accomplish before the end of the week. Around 7 p.m., I wrapped up my last email, and realized that I had spent my entire day working in the space where I usually decompress.
I felt trapped.
It had already been dark for hours, but I had to go somewhere. Still in my pajamas, I slid into my tennis shoes and ventured out into the last few hours of Obama’s America.
The fresh air felt relieving, until I thought about how stifling the air would feel the next day. Call me dramatic if you want, but I think “dramatic” is probably closer to lying about the number of people who attended your inauguration.
As I jogged to the edge of my block, I got distracted by bright clusters of words scrawled in chalk on the sidewalk. “Women’s rights are human rights,” “no human is illegal,” “science is real” and “use kind words!” appeared below my feet.
“Keep marching! You’re doing great!” was surrounded by hearts and sunshines below a statue of Mary McLeod Bethune. I kept running. As I neared the Library of Congress, I lost count of the houses with MLK signs in the front yard, quoting his famous speech.
For the past seven months, I have lived here, and run by the Capitol building every week. Sometimes I snap a picture if the sky looks just right, but I always stop and stare for a minute (or ten). I think about what’s going on inside, and I am usually filled with a rage that fuels me for the rest of my run — I think about different ways I would light Betsy DeVos’ ass on fire, or how many languages I could tell Paul Ryan what a piece of shit he really is.
This time was different, because I could see what dozens of other humans were thinking when they stood in the same spot earlier that day. They saw a Congress who tried to abdicate the code of ethics, and they wrote “Black Lives Matter” on the sidewalk. They read about a Cabinet of Horrors, and they wrote “we’re all in this together.”
As I ran back toward my house, I felt disappointed that the rain would wash away these messages before the Women’s March would take place on Saturday, but I also felt very sure of one thing:
This new administration cannot wash away the good hearts of the 300 million people that live in this country. They cannot take away our morals, even if they try to get rid of their own. The new administration cannot stop us from using our voices until everyone agrees that this nation was birthed by women and we can stop birthing it if we damn well please.
They cannot stop us from loving each other, supporting each other, and lifting each other until the sky rains down with shattered glass ceilings.
I found that this fueled my run even more than the rage that usually burns inside me, and when I got home, I realized I had completely missed the chalk letters right in front of my yard.
“Welcome to D.C.!” it read. Welcome, indeed.