Sometimes, the intensity of D.C. just saps my own energy. Often the best way to re-absorb the city’s vibe is just to take a walk and soak it all on. The garishly painted rowhouses, alley cats, friendly and (unfriendly) people on their porches — both a cure for the city’s type-A aura and somehow a refresher for the next battle.
On one of our jaunts, we crossed into an eerie zone below Independence Avenue: pitch black. The power had been cut over a several-block swath, and it was truly jarring compared to the usual level of luminosity provided by Washington — and most other cities, big and small.
In the country, and much of the suburbs, you would be a fool to go for a walk at night without reflective gear in areas that often lack sidewalks and streetlights. In D.C., I actually think dusk is the worst-lit time — before the streetlights come on but as the sun wanes.
Walking around in that patch of blackness in late September, it was obvious how impractical a city with low light would be. Everyone and thing is sketchy. A man with flashlight — surely the police. Ah, no just a couple out for a walk. It would be like pinball, bumping from person to person: It’s just too dense for such shenanigans.
Not that there aren’t benefits to places unsullied by light pollution. Even in that limited area, the stars popped like I haven’t seen since my last trek to Maine this summer — beautiful. And it woke up a part of me that forgot what it is like to see actual darkness.
Let’s face it: In cities we have created a world where the sun — so to speak — never goes down. Depending on where I position myself, I can legitimately read outside at night. Heck, Metro stations are harder to read in.
The next time your power goes out, I have something to look forward to, if only briefly: The dark. I’m not as afraid as I once was.