The Day After The Election In Washington D.C.
I could see my breath condensing in the bright light of my headtorch.
Pulling on leggings, long sleeves, a hat, and gloves is a struggle on mornings like this, especially after its been a late night.
Earlier this summer I discovered the local running store organises a 5:30am run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday–a quick 6-miles. I thought it would be all tall, skinny, singlet wearing men, in fact it was virtually all women–casual runners who do the odd race. There were nine of us on my first meet-up. Summer was easy, the mornings were sunny and warm.
I checked my hat and gloves, took a deep breath and flung open the door to the street. A warm glow spilled briefly from the hallway onto the cold cement, then vanished with a slam as I dragged myself out into the darkness. My body died, like a vacuum cleaner pushed beyond the reach of its power cord, jogging was as much instinctive now as it was intentional. A half-mile trot to our meeting point was enough to get the furnace burning again.
The only real mention of last nights political events was a general consensus that it’s nice to see it all come to an end–no more agressive TV ads–we can all move on. I sometimes forget that when it comes to politics one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain, not everyone will be jubilant today, and keen to talk about it, even in D.C. where everyone talks politics.
Things felt rather muted when I ventured downtown in the afternoon. Obama won D.C., VA and MD last night and I half expected some sort of party to be happening somewhere in the city, maybe it was, maybe people were burnt out from doing that in the early hours.
But D.C. always feels quiet, the pavements often feel empty, and I felt a bit let down I suppose. It has nice buildings, nice streets, nice weather, nice monuments, nicely dressed people–it’s all very nice. I wanted to see it reacting to the re-election of its president, I wanted to capture it on film. Trouble is, it’s all government workers and lawyers, there’s no beating heart to this city like there is in New York or London–it’s all business, a whole lot of downtown. I love it for what it is, but sometimes I miss that edgy, brash, “people power”, expressive vibe that cities exude.
The lone lady in this photo (above) showed a glimpse of the sort of expression and eccentricity I’d gone looking for today. She arrived in front of the White House in full song, immaculately dressed for the cold weather, clutching a bag of souvenirs from the nearby White House Gifts store. I’m not sure if it was a hymn book or a bible that laid open in her hand, but as she bounced around singing whatever it was (over the noise of the construction), she made me smile, and I was grateful for that. She breathed some warmth and life into a small piece of an otherwise cold city on an historic day.
I guess I’ll have to wait until the inauguration.