Well hello, my minions! Guess where I’ve been??
That be the March for Life.
Shout-out to the guy in the bottom-right corner who was disturbed by me randomly taking his picture.
So here’s how it happened: We were at church one day, talking about it with a friend of ours. A local Pro-Life organization was doing a bus-trip down to D.C. for the March, and Isabella mentioned that she wanted to go, but not alone. Thus, she was trying to find someone to go with her.
I could see the maniacal glimmer start in Anna’s eyes.
Thus transpired a few moments of blinking at each other and saying, “Would you want to go?” and, “Sure, why not? Would you want to go?” I figured we’d go home, discuss it, maybe do some more research, and–
HOLY TOLEDO, THE PHONES ARE OUT AND THEY’RE SIGNING US UP RIGHT NOW.
So yeah. That happened.
The trip began early one morning at the *cough* glorious *wheeze* hour of 4:30 A.M. We arrived at the church where the buses were picking us up, only to realize that, oh wait– we have no idea how to check in or which bus we’re supposed to be on or where to put our luggage. (And, actually, come to think of it, we have no idea what we’re doing, period.) I pointed at a man who looked somewhat in charge (his shirt was tucked in) and suggested we ask him. So we shambled over like sleep-deprived ghetto princesses and requested assistance.
He had no clue what was going on either.
He also happened to be the bus driver.
This did not make me feel better.
But at long last we found someone in charge to iron out the details and we boarded our bus, tired and moody and extremely aggravated to be up at such an indecent hour.
Anna, on the other hand… Well, Anna discovered the balm that turns the soul’s brokenness into bliss:
After nine hours on a bus mostly filled with people I didn’t know (I’m here to announce that earbuds fix everything — no one tried to talk to me), we arrived at our hotel. The three of us parked ourselves in a corner of the lobby and waited as rooms were assigned and keys distributed. One by one, the various members of our group trickled out, off to seek comfort and quiet and the quality of sleep after a long day…
Who were still waiting.
The group leaders were clustered around the hotel’s front desk, examining paperwork and whispering anxiously (and a tad aggressively) while casting concerned glances at us.
This carried on for fifteen minutes.
I was concerned.
However, I’m pleased to announce we didn’t have to sleep on the lobby floor. They found our key, we whisked ourselves off, and prepared for the long day ahead of us tomorrow.
Tomorrow came at another indecent hour.
It was at this point (5 A.M.) we remembered we really had no clue what we were doing, as the bus was dropping the Catholics of our group off at St. Peter’s Basilica for mass, and the rest of us at the International Prayer Service thingy before the March started. (Being non-Catholic and also somewhat opposed to standing in one place for three hours, we didn’t want to do either.) So we made a snap-decision and decided to skip the prayer service and instead walk to the the pro-life expo, look at some vendors and buy t-shirts, and then head over to the Trump rally before the March started.
The only problem with this brilliant plan is none of us knew how to get to any of these destinations.
This resulted in walking aggressively through D.C., following the map on Isabella’s phone, pausing now and then to admire pretty buildings and–
I’ll admit, even though I lived most of my life only an hour away from D.C., I’d never actually gone to see any of the places or monuments. So it was pretty cool, wandering around with the Capitol or the White House or the Washington Monument as a backdrop.
(And then there’s Anna, desecrating the mood.)
And then there’s the random jogger in the background who looks like he’s about to die.
The intense amount of security for the Trump rally did my crazed little writer’s heart good. There were helicopters. There were metal detectors. There were guys in black beanie hats and bullet-proof vests wandering purposefully around with machine guns. I was in utter rapture, even as I tried to hide the fact that I was scrutinizing them intently.
I mean, how often have YOU been that close to a member of the Secret Service???
As the three of us approached the metal detectors, Anna told me I would have to empty my pockets of anything metal. I somehow missed the memo and ended up unloading everything from my pockets in front of a semi-confused Secret Service agent, who stared at the pile of brochures and shredded bits of paper with concern.
“Are you… keeping all this?”
Let it be known that on January 24, 2020, Sarah Baran used a man wearing multiple weapons as a trash can.
I turned to the other Secret Service agent with a bit of reluctance, as he had been rigidly consistent in patting down literally every single person who came through his line. (This did not strike my fancy.) But he gave a world-weary sigh and motioned me to keep moving.
And THAT, my friends, is how a psycho writer person charmed the local body guards.
Anna charmed them too.
Apparently, Isabella did not.
Hey, did I mention that the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WAS SPEAKING? IN PERSON?
Well, he was. It was a big deal. There were a lot of people. My personal space has never been so violated. At one point, I found myself squished between a raucous group of insecure high-school divas with some random guy’s elbow in my back and a grandmother pressed against my shoulder, and this was the moment when I realized the March for Life had officially broken me and my introversion was traumatized beyond repair.
The random guy thought if he kept needling his elbow into me, I’d move and he could take my spot.
HE THOUGHT WRONG.
(*this is the part where Sarah shoved him*)
See those little shapes on top of that tower? They be snipers.
Those two girls on the left were the most annoying things to plague the world since Potiphar’s wife. They kept trying to dance at inopportune moments and nearly took Isabella’s head off with their wild arm-flailing. Then one of their boyfriends aggressively shoved me out of my spot, and the wrath of Smaug took me again.
You know road rage? I experience that sometimes, except with people instead of drivers.
But despite my uncomfortableness with the close human proximities, lack of space, and overstimulation, the rally was something else. There was such good energy, and it was unbelievably cool to hear the President speak in person.
I was impressed.
Near the end of the rally, mom (who was watching the live-broadcast from home) started urgently texting me pictures. I expected them to be of our cats, or dad, or her lunch, but–
That’s… that’s us.
The real mystery is Anna’s face. Is she yawning? Shouting passionately? Showing her teeth to the nearest bystander?
We may never know.
With the rally over, the march finally began. And it was… well, fairly indescribable. As we all know, I’m not a huge fan of crowds (let alone big ones), but this was a completely different thing. To have so many people (200,000) of so many ages and ethnicities and walks of life all gathered together in one place, united — despite our wildly different backgrounds — because we all believe so strongly in the sanctity of life…
Yeah, so, it definitely cooked my beans. After hearing about this event for so long, it was crazy to finally be there, right in the middle of things — to see the people and read the signs and feel the pro-life energy.
The one flaw in my otherwise happy little paradise was how easy it was to lose track of my two companions. However, I was determined we were NOT getting separated, and made it my official duty to hang onto them.
They were obviously thrilled.
Believe it or not, this poor kid was one of only five protesters we saw. I expected there to be more, but hey, the other four made up for their lack of numbers by being doubly obnoxious.
(They DEFINITELY made a difference, oh yes. *flat stare* See how many minds have been changed by their hurled insults and incendiary signs???)
As the march finally drew to a close, we realized we still had two hours to kill before we had to rejoin our group and get picked up by the bus. Having had nothing to eat since 5:30 that morning (it was now 4 P.M.), we wandered off in search of a Chikfila.
The navigational skills of these two were honestly concerning.
Yes, we’re tourists. We took pictures in front of significant buildings. Don’t judge us.
At long last, we found our Chikfila — in the center of Union Station. Which happened to be packed. With more humans.
(I was so done with humans.)
This place stressed me out. There were three floors, all completely crawling with sentient biological matter. (Ick.) We got our food and got out, and since all the seating was taken, parked ourselves on the ground outside like a trio of homeless damsels in distress.
It was then that we checked our map and realized we were an hour’s walk away from our group’s meet-up, and if we didn’t want the bus to leave us behind, had approximately ten minutes to eat and recover before starting off again.
We’d already been on our feet for eleven hours. It was not a happy realization.
But we survived, and made it to the Lincoln Memorial intact and in a timely fashion. There, we located our group, rested our feet, and did a bit more sight-seeing.
If it wasn’t so dark, you would see the sarcasm oozing from my eyeballs. I hate looking like a tourist.
And then… we left. And thus ended the March for Life and our adventures in Washington DC. I’ve never been so tired in my life, or so ready for bed, but it was a good kind of exhaustion. After one whirlwind of a day and a dream finally come to fruition, I was ready to go home.
(I must note that I felt like trampled snot the next day, which might have killed my patriotic sentiments a bit. But anyway.)
On the way back to Michigan, our bus made a detour so we could visit the Flight 93 memorial. (If you don’t know what that is, look it up because I’m not explaining it.)
This was an eerie place, if only because it was so sad.
And then there’s this epic picture.
Of course, Anna decided to drag me (trampled snot and all) off on the huge walk down to see the crash site.
About halfway down the track, we realized she’d made a misjudgement of time and we had approximately thirty-two minutes to get back to the bus before it left us behind. (This seemed to happen to us a lot…) At this point we were too far into the hike to go back, so our only option was finishing it. Which resulted more aggressive walking. During which I felt like dying.
Never in the history of ever have I outpaced my wildly energetic sister by that much.
We returned to the bus with seven minutes to spare, thanks to my fast pace. I settled into my seat, proud of our accomplishment — a mile-long hike in only forty-five minutes! Wow!
My triumphant reverie was interrupted by the loudspeaker announcing that the bus would be driving us down to the crash site.
And I realized.
I did all that aggressive walking.
It was not a good day.
And THAT, my friends, concludes my March for Life experience. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t want it to end. I’ve never been much of an adventurer, but it was so amazing to participate in the biggest pro-life event in the world and show support for a movement I believe in so wholeheartedly. Not to mention Anna was there, and Anna always adds spice to an adventure. And Isabella, who sprinkled the entire affair with puns and meme references and more than enough snark to make me proud.
So yes, it was a good trip. Look out, 2021. I’m coming back.