I got to spend the whole day in the studio at Glen Echo, one of my favorite places, and sat at a wheel while various people came in, did their thing, and left.
One thing I love best about doing pottery at the studio is the combination of solitude and community. I am alone with the clay and able to lose myself completely. But there's a shared experience with the other potters, many of whom I learn from and share creative juices (wine!) with without even knowing their names.
On Friday afternoon one of the best potters in DC came in and, as I'd heard he was in the habit of doing, brought an ipod mix to play while we worked. My heart warmed to hear "The Dutchman", a song that brought back memories of singing with Pastor Bob on the mandolin.
The good songs kept rolling - and as it does, music started a bond. People hummed, our moods melded.
The potter announced he was nearly finished with another mix called the Jesus mix. I smiled secretly - he had no idea what I do for a day job.
He asked if anyone would be offended if he played it sometime. I replied no, I'd be curious.
When, after a bit of enthusiasm for our shared musical tastes, I confessed that I had a professional interest in the Jesus mix, he ran out to his car, barely missing a hailstorm, to bring in the computer with the Jesus mix.
It ran the gamut from Uncle Tupelo singing Satan don't let your kingdom come down ("If you have a Jesus mix you gotta have Satan too" said the potter), to the the Rolling Stones' The Girl with the Faraway Eyes.
We chatted briefly but mostly just shared the music and a little bond formed briefly over a couple of songs. As he got ready to leave I finally introduced myself by name, but that was hardly essential to the exchange. We remain essentially strangers, but as one of my favorite songs from the Jesus mix says, "Never know just what on earth I'll find In the faces of a stranger"
That sons is Jesus in New Orleans by Over the Rhine, full lyrics below.
The last time I saw Jesus
I was drinking bloody mary's in the South
In a barroom in New Orleans
Rinsin' out the bad taste in my mouth
She wore a dark and faded blazer
With a little of the lining hanging out
When the jukebox played Miss Dorothy Moore
I knew that it was him without a doubt
I said the road is my redeemer
I never know just what on earth I'll find
In the faces of a stranger
In the dark and weary corners of a mind
She said, The last highway is only
As far away as you are from yourself
And no matter just how bad it gets
It does no good to blame somebody else
Ain't it crazy
What's revealed when you're not looking all that close
Ain't it crazy
How we put to death the ones we need the most
I know I'm not a martyr
I've never died for anyone but me
The last frontier is only
The stranger in the mirror that I see
But when I least expect it
Here and there I see my savior's face
He's still my favorite loser
Falling for the entire human race