It was just before 8 a.m. when we stepped onto the street corner in front of Pershing Square.
A caravan of seven young women, we had left our native Orange County in the golden light of sunrise—meaning far too early for my liking.
So, I was only half awake when my girl gang and I were accosted from across the square by an older woman with short hair, sporting a fuchsia hat emblazoned with "Make America Sane Again."
She excitedly took off her backpack, a Trump baby Mylar balloon tied to it, and asked to take our photograph.
I thought it odd ... why would this stranger want a random picture of us?
“It is so refreshing to see a group of young women out here fighting for our rights,” she exclaimed excitedly. “We are tired and we need to pass the torch to you girls…”
I didn’t think much of what she said at the time—still drowsy from the early start and 30-plus mile drive to downtown.
It was my first Women's March, or participation in a demonstration of any kind for that matter, so I figured maybe this is just how it goes —zany older ladies snap your photo and you just play along with a smile.
Later, as I stood in the crowd near the stage area at the edge of Hill and Sixth Streets, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder.
A mouse of a woman—hunched with age, her face crinkled and her hands bent—was asking to pass me so she could stand at the front and get a better view of the goings on.
I let her go by, offering her my hand as she teetered up from the stair beneath me.
She had on a gardening hat, made of natural-looking brown fibers, adorned with a pale chiffon ribbon and a variety of political pins.
One read “I was arrested for peace.”
As we listened to spirited speeches and marched up Hill Street waving our homemade signs—some 250,000 chanting crusaders and me—the energy was fierce and the pathos palpable.
But the real impact of the day came later, once the dust had settled and I was quietly in the back seat on the drive home.
I was, admittedly, trying to nap and use my horribly uncomfortable sign as a makeshift pillow.
'The future is female'—the words were emblazoned on the poster board against a colorful backdrop.
I stared at them, envisioning my concept of the future, complete with all the cheapest cliches of flying cars and chrome buildings.
What would the world look like in 50 years?
When I am the same age as the woman with the gardening hat who was arrested for peace or the Trump balloon lady who took our picture, will there still be a Women's March?
That's when I realize: these women had been fighting a war—a war for us—long before I was ever even a thought.
Rights I was born with, such as reproductive control, access to contraceptives, voting and fair opportunities, were actually a hard-earned gift.
Through decades of sacrifice and activism, these women had blessed my generation with a justice that has shaped our very existence.
Well, ladies, I’m here now to say thank you.
And, for the sake of my daughters who aren’t even thoughts yet—the torch has been passed.