A little troupe of us- myself, J. and my other J.- travelled to Washington yesterday, on the promise of festivities and fun, although we opted to skip the inauguration itself, as that was a bit too much of a zoo for any of us to handle (some of us do crowds better than others, y’see).

We went to the Rock The Vote concert at the 9:30 Club, which is a impressively well-laid-out venue, and which was a memorable experience. Saw The Dresden Dolls perform, a first-time thing for all three of us, and it was a powerful show. Their set was short (all the performers were limited to something like half an hour), but well-chosen, and their encore cover of War Pigs (dedicated to the outgoing Bush administration) brought a roar of laughter and enthusiastic agreement from the crowd.

We had balcony seats. We had a perfect view. We got some fantastic pictures, which will be uploaded and posted here sometime tomorrow. We prowled around after their set, although not in time to catch AFP and Brian Viglione at the merchandise booth, which sucked, as I wanted to meet Brian v. badly.

I wanted to meet Amanda, too.

And I did. She’s just as awesome in person as she seems from musicblogpicturesvideos. It’s a good thing I have absolutely no shame, or we probably wouldn’t have had this chance, but the three of us had given up on finding the Dolls in the crowded club and had gone outside. We were lurking on the corner, trying to sort out what we wanted to do- Thing One wanted to find Thing Two some food and sobering influence, Thing Two wanted to find a barrel-fire and the makings for s’mores- when a pair of people exited the club and came around the side of the building where we stood. I wasn’t sure if it was AFP or not- this is the effect of the common hoodie, you see- so I called her name. I honestly wasn’t figuring on it being her.

Except it was, and I am now officially the best girlfriend ever, because AFP, who was clearly trying to duck out unnoticed and probably go somewhere warm with a bed, was superbly gracious enough to stand and chat with us for a couple of minutes while she waited on her ride, who went on ahead to get the car. That made the entire evening worth it. It had been a good enough time anyway, and we would have come home happy we’d gone, but those few minutes gave it the extra impetus to bump the excursion from ‘good day away from it all’ to ‘right up there in the top ten vacations’, brief as it was. Thing One couldn’t talk in a register low enough for the human ears for roughly forty-five minutes after we went our separate ways from AFP.

She really is incredibly gracious. For all that we get told ‘famous people are still people’, I don’t know a lot of them who’d take five minutes to chat in the frigid cold, at one in the morning, with a group of people they’d never before met in their life, as though they’re old friends. Especially given I suspect we were all just ticking off the fangirl/boy stereotypes as we went along.

But it was a good conversation. We talked about tour dates and food and how record labels are Satanspawned cesspits (my phrasing, if it needs saying, and not hers), and how Chapel Hill is a great place to come play music. Hint, hint, hint. Not as close as, say, Greensboro (HINT HINT HINT!) but close enough to make me smile sweetly at my boss and demand the evening off or else.

No, not really. Extortion’s not my thing. But I’m not above bribery. Just sayin’.

And that was awesome. But it wasn’t what really made the trip such a blissfully good one.

What really made the trip worth going was… atmosphere. Everywhere we went in DC, on the metro, in the streets, in restaurants and the venue, everyone was happy. Bouyantly, exuberantly happy. The hope and relief were a nearly-tangible thing, and it was everywhere. I’ve been to DC before, and people just don’t talk to each other; strangers don’t really strike up conversations for no good reason other than there’s someone sitting next to them on the Metro, but last night, just about everyone we saw was smiling, and just about everyone I spoke to spoke back. People were friendly. People were laughing. People looked at each other and saw, instead of obstacles to the Metro door or an object taking up a valuable seat or a faceless entity to be ignored in case of rapist/murderer/used car salesman- other people. Human beings, worth really looking at and speaking with, worth sharing a few precious minutes of their lives with, simply because they were together in the same place by happenstance, and because yesterday was a Damn Good Day.

Fuck; that ought to be a song. AFP, you on that? Oh, wait.