We call our daughter Pickle, but her real name is Eirene, which means peace in biblical Greek, a language my wife Cathlin studied at seminary. The nickname Pickle came to us when she was in the womb and it fits her, especially her current eight-year-old personality. The name Eirene and its meaning has always loomed so large for me, and in a way I have been happy not to use it. But while driving down to the Women’s March in Washington D.C., last Friday, Pickle asked me if we could use her given name for the weekend, or at least a shortened version, Rin.

“Of course,” I said. “It feels right to me too.”

It was a 12-hour drive from Martha’s Vineyard to Washington. We stopped many times, including at the Clara Barton rest stop, the last service station in New Jersey before crossing over to Delaware. While buying snacks we bumped into Rose Styron, Jenny Allen, and Brooke and Lynne Adams from the Vineyard. They were also on the way to the march, but bumping into them at a random rest stop was a bizarre coincidence we marveled at. Rose was fired up. Now in her 80s, she is an experienced marcher and it never occurred to her to sit this one out.

Eirene and I stayed with old friends in Bethesda, Md. Eight years ago, we had lived in the same neighborhood in New York city when we are all new parents. Back then our lives were filled with conversations about lack of sleep and the complete overhaul of our lives after becoming parents. Now the dad works for the federal government in Washington and our conversations included whether he would quit his job because of the new administration or hunker down and try to do some good from within.

On Saturday morning, the line to get into the subway station was so long it took an hour just to get to the turnstiles, our first realization of how large the crowds would be. Eirene quickly made friends with a couple from Rochester, N.Y. The man wore a tie with lots of tiny panda bears on it, and Eirene smiled and said how much she liked it.

“I bought it in China,” he told her. Then the couple turned to me and said that many years ago they adopted two young girls from China. The girls are now in high school, and after the election some kids at school began telling them to go back to China where they belonged.

“That’s not the country I thought I was living in,” the man said. “That’s why we are here today.”

Coming up out of the subway we saw one of the only policemen we would meet the entire day. He smiled at everyone, waved and said “Happy protesting.” This seemed to please Eirene, which made me happy because on the drive down she told me her top four fears were police, death, fire and spiders. I walked over to the policeman with Eirene and we both shook his hand.

Cathlin’s one word of advice before we left home was to stay away from people with masks. “They may do things you don’t want to be a part of,” she explained to Eirene.

We didn’t see any marchers with masks, but Eirene did ask me if she should avoid people with naughty words on their signs.

“I don’t think that is possible,” I said as the signs were everywhere, ranging from the political to the humorous to a wide range of references about the female anatomy. I deferred all questions about this new vocabulary to when we returned home to mom.

Our host’s roommate from college was part of our group, along with her 17-year-old daughter. They had flown in from San Francisco. It was their first march.

I did not grow up a marcher and had remained on the sidelines until I met Cathlin, who had attended her first march as an eight year old, standing side by side with her mother at a No Nukes rally in Battery Park.

My first march was in Philadelphia with Cathlin, for a cause I can’t remember now. The only thing I do remember is that Jackson Browne walked with our very small group, and we were told that we could not touch his hair. Before hearing this I had never considered touching Jackson Browne’s hair, but after being told not to it was all I could think about.

We couldn’t see or hear the speeches in D.C., there were too many people, but it didn’t matter. Walking among the crowds was enough, or rather it was more than enough. They came in gray hair and in strollers, they wore braces on their teeth and streaks of color in their hair. They did gymnastics and hand stands, they hobbled on canes. Some were topless and a few were completely naked. And everyone carried a sign.

There were men too but women were the clear majority by the hundreds of thousands. Smiling and kindness ruled the day and it was a glimpse, I felt, of what the world might be like if women had all the power and men simply stood on the sidelines cheering and chanting, “Her Body, Her Choice.”

We stayed at the march for eight hours, taking a short break in the National Gallery, which flanked the National Mall. A few days earlier Eirene had told me Monet was her favorite artist. This was news to me. But soon after entering the gallery she yelled Monet and ran off to look at some of the artist’s original paintings. I felt unmoored at that moment, watching my daughter stand among a group of marchers taking a time-out for art. It was as if I was seeing her for the first time, as a woman and as an individual.

The next day, on the drive home, the traffic was unbearable with so many people trying to leave the city at once. It took seven hours just to go a hundred miles. At one rest stop, Eirene and I stood by the car stretching. A group of young women nearby were doing a dance routine to get their own blood flowing.

One of them waved and approached our car. She said she had seen our Girl Power sign, the Massachusetts license plate and also thought the West Tisbury dump sticker looked like the Stockbridge dump sticker where she lived. Soon a crowd of us formed as other cars with women and men driving home from the march stopped to take a rest. We all stood together, stretching and talking and marveling not just at the number of marchers but about the spirit of goodwill and kindness that overflowed from everyone.

When people ask Eirene what her favorite part of the march was, she always has a different answer — meeting so many people, the friendly policeman, the dogs wearing pink hats with cat ears, standing on the steps of the National Gallery and looking out of the crowds, seeing a Monet painting, reading so many naughty words.

I too have many favorite moments from the weekend. And yet it is Sunday at the rest stop, trying to escape bumper to bumper traffic, that keeps coming back to me. No one complained about the traffic, nor did it seem odd for a large group of strangers to gather and talk at a roadside rest stop.

I introduced my daughter to the group as Eirene, and explained what her name means. And when I close my eyes I can still see everyone cheering against the backdrop of gas pumps, parked cars and a Wendy’s sign, especially me who had taken a step back, the better to watch my daughter shine.