“Make sure you return safely,” one friend said nervously in the week leading up to my departure for the Million Women’s March on Washington. “If you see a stampede, get the hell out of there,” another offered.

My friend down in Bethesda, Md., the one who opened her house to 17 of us — 14 women and three men aged 18 to 58 — taught us all what to do in case we were arrested. Evidently many people were afraid there would be some skirmishes. And there were, it turns out, just not on Saturday, Jan. 21.  The 217 arrests occurred the day before on Friday, Jan. 20, the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Total arrests on Saturday during the Million Women’s March — zero. Who would have guessed it? My 500,000 compatriots and I could not have been safer.

That’s what this Million Women’s March felt like — safety, love, compassion, tolerance, joy, unmitigated self-expression. It was as if the love the knitters put into their Pepto Bismol pink pussy hats exploded over the entire city. My Metro card fell out of my pocket not once, but twice and both times it was returned to me by concerned marchers within 30 seconds. I left my purse in the porta potty and when I went back for it 20 minutes later, it was still there. Considering the line was at least 300 feet long for six available toilets, many women must have seen it hanging there and didn’t remove my license, ATM card or the $80. They didn’t event take my peppermint. Thanks, gals!

Based on the homemade signs and overheard snippets of conversation, the march apparently was many things to many people. There were signs, large and small, expressing anger about government intrusion in women’s bodies, anger about the need for action on climate change, anger that women’s rights, so hard fought and so recently taken for granted, could be swept away without vigilance.

“Didn’t we already fight for this?” was a question asked many times by many people at different points in the March.

Yes, this anger was real. Yes, this dismay and fear was palpable. But this Million Women’s March, for the friends in my group, for the many people I connected with and expressed in the speeches of the many speakers — Gloria Steinem, Michael Moore, Ashley Judd, to name a few — appeared to be about rising above the anger, about saying ‘yes’ to solidarity, passion, unity, strength, compassion, the courage and conviction to speak out and, above all, the one thing without which nothing else seems to really matter — Love. “Love Trumps Hate.”

For now, the march is over, but for many of the women and men who marched it is the beginning of something new — a movement. What next?  What next indeed.

(The attached photos were taken by Carole Walker, a Milford resident, and Tracey Iaizzi, an HAN Network employee)