Dark Road Diary, Part 37: Washington, DC

About a mile and a half up from the Whitehouse, Harvard Street is lined with formidable old churches, temples, lodges…this particular territory staked out by the religiously inclined about the same time they were painting the house down the street white. These things look like they were laser carved out of granite. And there are columns…lots of columns. Nothing says “I’m dead serious” like granite columns. It is in one of these buildings that we put on a Night.

The band hasn’t joined us in a month, and they are on the back end of a 9-hour drive down from Toronto, so the proceedings are a little rough around the edges which, honestly, is how I prefer it.

I look around occasionally, wondering what the people are making of what we do. We are strangers in a strange town. They are strangers in a strange town. We have that in common: this is a strange town.

Here’s what I recall of the ending of the night: I slide the guitar strap over my head and off my shoulder, turning my back to the crowd while I put the guitar down, and when I turn back around, Jenkinson has lunged past his mic, heading into the outstretched arms of an older Black woman in the front row.

“What was that all about?” I ask later on.
“She was giving me face all night long!” he says. “It just had to be done.”

As we pack up, there is a regular flow of interruptions, people who want to respond to what they just took part in. I’ve learned to lead people past “I can’t really find the words…” with this simple directive: “Try,” I say.

I come to realize that in Washington, DC, we have brought something that makes no promises, breaks no promises, has no end game, no design to alleviate, no design to punish; no design to sell; we do something that draws on no book, no constitution, but on the work of living and the work of ending.

We have no agenda in a town dripping with agenda, drooling with agenda, drowning in agenda. That’s what people were trying to say, I think.


Photo by Drake Sorey