This is where I was week before last:
With a black hood covering my head, all I could see outside was blurry and dark. The outside couldn’t see in. After an hour of standing still, my muscles began to ache terribly. The cardboard sign I carried felt like a slab of concrete. Sounds blended and muffled, and their quiet rebelled against the busyness that the shadows were transacting. Constantly, the shadows took pictures of us, and stared, and reacted. I was one of about a dozen that day dressed in hoods and orange jumpsuits, standing silently in a row before our altar and our stage, the White House.
To find out what on God’s green earth I was doing, take a look at my new essay at The Huffington Post about the little stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, “The Pennsylvania Avenue Circus.” It’s an odd and wonderful place, full of the posturing and tourism and security and passion that makes Washington such a seductively strange city. When I used to work downtown, one of the best parts of my day was the ten seconds it took to cruise through there on my bike, trying not to crash into the tour groups or the Secret Service.
Growing up in D.C., I was always fascinated how the buildings there claim to be imbued with power. Here’s a passage on the subject from a memoir-in-progress:
On the way to the museum, we would pass the Pentagon and the marble monuments to war. The Capitol stood in the backdrop. If I looked hard enough, could power be seen? Perhaps, in the the city’s wide avenues, which trace out Masonic symbols. Or in the blind eye they cast on the horrific neighborhoods. Unlike Rome, a fortress on hills, we built D.C. in a swamp, as if all its wars would be distant ones. It felt like a privilege to be so close to the center of power, and I couldn’t understand why people chose to live elsewhere in the country.
Hope you like the new essay.