It’s already been a week!
It’s only been a week‽
One week ago from the moment this post went live, only watching a clock would have let you know anything was different, and yet everything had changed with President Biden’s inauguration and the semi-peaceful transfer of power.
Through the windows of my Brooklyn living room, I saw blue skies. On my TV, I noticed the same in Washington D.C. Earlier, as I sat to write my morning pages, an unexpected heavy flurry swirled outside; after, when I closed myself in the kids’ bedroom to meditate, the snow had stopped, but outside appeared cold and gloomy, remaining overcast and gray.
Though I did not record changes in weather in order to compare them to the timeline of He-Who-Shall-No-Longer-Be-Named’s departure from the White House for his final flight on Air Force One, it seemed to me that the further he traveled physically from our government’s seat of power, Mother Nature began to relax. By the time he landed in Florida and deplaned, that blue sky had peaked through, and Kamala Harris was minutes from taking the oath that allowed her to drop “-elect” from her new job title. And by the time our Mini-Wannabe-Mussolini and Melania parted ways to go to their separate bedrooms inside Mar-a-Lago, only the winter coats and accessories (most notably some giant mittens!) revealed the season. The temperature in D.C. at noon reached 42 degrees, right around the average high temperature for the date.
As high noon approached, President Uncle Joe took the oath-of-office at 11:47 am, standing on the same platform that just two weeks earlier hundreds of abhorrent, anti-constitutional, anti-patriotic, apparently ProFa (read: Pro Fascist) insurrectionists had defiled just two weeks earlier. Meanwhile, from my personal view in Brooklyn and the televised one from D.C., though clouds remained, the day now appeared bright and sunny, and I appreciated the fortuitous synchronicity of between our leadership and the weather.
I wondered: Going forward, maybe we could just skip “45” in the presidential count. I mean, there actually have only been 44 people to hold the office; Grover Cleveland’s non-consecutive terms make him both 22 and 24. So why not treat Mr. 45 like so many buildings consider their 13th floors: Technically, within the unforgiving universe of numbers, it exists, but too many people feel better not seeing “13” on the elevator display or buttons, we accept its absence and pretend the 14th floor isn’t ... well, you know.
Listening to Biden’s speech, as the morning became the afternoon, as I’ve heard so many others express, I suddenly felt a little bit more relaxed. Certainly, I’m conscious that a new president doesn’t automatically fix anything, much less everything, but in this case, at least my daily expectations had flipped upside down: The glass for our country and our world was now 50% full rather than 90+% empty.
I watched the entire ceremony with a sense of cleansing:
- Thrilled by the musical performances of all three superstars, especially once Lady Gaga was finished, and the immensity of the moment seemed to make her think, “Did I just really do that? Did this happen?” (Though to both Gaga and JLo: You couldn’t wear a mask until you reached the microphone? Like everyone else?).
- Moved by the very sight of our new, smiling, non-housefly-attracting VP, whose ascension to the second highest office in the land may be the closest to fruition the “American Dream” ideal of the American Dream has ever reached, marking so many notable historical facts: First female VP; first female person-of-color VP; first PresidentVP of Asian descent; only the fourth first-generation American President/Vice President ... and I’m sure there are more.
- Comforted by the new President’s inaugural speech, filled with aspirational hope but also recognition of reality, I also appreciated the mature, communal concept that “We must end this uncivil war,” which stood in such stark contrast to the authoritarian, gaslighting, abusive-father-yelling-at-his-kids declaration of “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
- Awestruck by the beauty, depth, hope and ambition of Amanda Gorman presenting her poem “The Hill We Climb”; a magnificent piece of writing that stands alongside Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus” as a distillation of what our country should strive for. Maybe they should cast Gorman’s poem in bronze, creating a plaque for the Capitol Rotunda, since I can’t imagine a more perfect response to the Confederates who stormed the building on Jan. 6. When she finished, I thought, “Biden just gave the best speech of his life, and thank god he didn’t have to follow her!”
But when the ceremony was over, and I began scrolling through various social media—not doomscrolling, but only barely hopescrolling—I quickly remembered that even with all the positive feelings an sights I experienced and also witnessed in others from afar, we live in a country that does not live up to its full name, and arguably, it never has; or if it did, that pinnacle of states fully united has not been reality since May 29, 1790. We consider Sept. 17, 1787 “Constitution Day,” but that date was simply when the delegates to the Constitutional Convention from the 13 original states agreed to and signed the document. Though even that statement requires an asterisk, for no Rhode Island representative signed, and the state did not officially ratify the Constitution until ... May 29, 1790.
Continue reading "We Live in a Country ...: Reflections on a Nation and Inauguration" »