I am notNOT sure what to write about this trip to D.C. Awkward and rainy marches. Chants die ugly and slow. What I really want to talk about is Uncle Osama’s turkey dinner at one a.m.; his unconditional hospitality, M&M’s on the bedside dresser, a deep sleep, Turkish coffee at six a.m.
I want to talk about the absence I felt when Annabel left for home; Zack’s surprising skills on the dance floor; running out to the quickmart with Kelly (yelling absurd things at the clerk); meeting a man whose loneliness gives me nightmares; meeting a woman who lobbied until she couldn’t anymore; meeting a quiet woman in the church sanctuary who smiled at everything I said; I–
There was this weird geographical split, chronological too. There was arguing and co-opting, live music, speeches drowned out, chocolate cake, free apples, wind and oh and more rain. But I– I guess what I want to say is all this gloom– I remember what these gatherings can be instead– is only inside me– there’s also cheering and love: some really talented live music, donated to us for absolutely nothing. We were fed lavishly. The marchers are celebrities and I ride on that wave for chocolate cake. What I should say is that we all developed connection in a matter of hours. I know that this is inside me. I know inside me that these connections come when one is doing something from the heart. Just walking, just smiling.
Someone yelled at us from outside the tent. Perhaps I can say again that chants die ugly and slow. Returning days later to an empty gallery that was supposed to be an occupation; talking trash about it on the phone, talking sad about it in the rain, talking hope about it in a diner. Talking shit.
Words by Kathleen Purcell
Photographed by Zack Helwa