On the first day that I arrived in Washington, D.C., the Women’s March was in full swing and I cannot find in my memory a better time to meet strangers than at this event, attended by over a million women and supporters of women and human rights. In a group made up of my father, my roommate Nicole and two other NYUDC students I had not met yet, I felt the sisterhood and support that you may feel in a group formed to express loyalty and concern for an important identity you hold. During the time we spent standing on the National Mall waiting for the large crowd to begin the march route, we met a woman who was the type to join any interesting conversation within earshot. Socially unafraid of talking to strangers, Rebecca Forte may be one of the few people who have a comfort zone that stretches miles in every direction. Meeting her made an instant impression on me because, as I only found out later on in our encounter, she had come to this march alone. This struck me as odd from the moment I found this out because I assumed that especially in a large crowd, it could be easy for you to feel isolated if you did not have someone to stick by your side. It made sense to me, though, that if anyone were to come to a protest completely alone, it would be someone like her.
Rebecca was proud and vocal about her liberal viewpoints and responded to a comment about my dad’s only recent move towards the left of the political spectrum, “well, at least he’s learning!” Her charm was shown through her unwavering acceptance and positivity and that is something I will always admire about her. Although she did not tell me more about her background and life until I explicitly asked about it later on, she integrated into our group so seamlessly that I felt I did not need to know the details of her life to trust her and accept her as well.
Physically, she was a short woman with brown hair worn in a long braid that ran down her back. She was wearing a sock monkey toboggan hat that demonstrated some of her personality before anyone had even spoken to her and a t-shirt with a long sleeve shirt underneath. That day, I was wearing a light down jacket with a long sleeve shirt underneath, leaving me with the impression that she was naturally very well equipped for colder weather whereas I am a self-proclaimed weakling when it comes to temperatures below 40 degrees fahrenheit.
We talked about the prospects of moving sometime soon, as the time went from an hour to hours that we had been standing in the same place as well as general opinions on the most clever signs. Eventually, the march moved forward, or really backwards, and had only been delayed because it turns out that there were so many people, the march route was already full of standing participants, so the march had to happen through another route. This fact made us all proud to be attending an event that will likely be put into history books and taught in public schools as the moment when women took action once again to express their dissatisfaction with the system.
As I look at a photo we took that day, I realize that I do not remember the details of her face but I do remember the impressions she made on me. No matter what, she is now engrained in that very important memory I have of a time when I expressed my political opinion in the largest crowd to walk on Washington in recorded history.