I’m a sucker for awards shows. I watch the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys, the Country Music Awards—even the Tonys, although I’m usually unfamiliar with the shows because I can’t afford the price of a Broadway ticket. The Golden Globes are my favorite, because the movie stars are seated around circular tables and have access to an open bar, which leads to some occasionally bizarre unscripted moments—along with some scripted ones, like Meryl Streep’s eloquent speech this year.
Donald J. Trump’s inauguration kept me glued to the television screen for over seven
hours yesterday—eight if you count ABC’s coverage of the inaugural balls. In many ways, the day reminded me of those awards shows, especially in the morning coverage of the political celebrities alighting at the Capitol and making their way through the marble corridors and eventually to their assigned seats for the inauguration. It was the Washington equivalent of the Hollywood red carpet, except that the famous folk didn’t stop for reporters’ questions or photo ops. There were some memorable fashion statements, though, as in the photos I’m including here.
I blocked out the entire day on my calendar, even opted to skip my Friday morning Nia class at the YMCA, because I didn’t want to miss this historic transfer of power. I’ve watched memorable inaugurations in the past. In 1993, I was running a home care agency, ElderSource Inc., in New Paltz, New York. We specialized in round-the-clock live-in care, and though I was founder and president of my little business, I frequently ferried our aides to and from their assignments.
On the day of Bill Clinton’s inauguration, I had come to pick up one of our wonderful Jamaican aides from her assignment in Kingston and drive her to the Metro North station in Poughkeepsie so she could catch the train back to New York City. We had some time to spare, so along with our client, we watched part of Clinton’s inauguration. Avis and I were so moved that we embraced and cried happy tears as we watched the swearing in.
Years later, during Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, I was babysitting my younger granddaughter in Woodstock. She was far too young to understand what was happening on TV, but I remember sitting on the floor, cradling her in my arms as I watched the historic swearing-in of our first African American president.
This inauguration was different. I was a fervent Hillary supporter. I heard both her and Trump when they held rallies in Albany during the New York primaries. When she was First Lady, I’d glimpsed her through the smoked glass of a limo as she and Bill sped through New Paltz, then heard her speak at a political breakfast in Kingston. When she published her first memoir, I stood in line to get her autograph at the Book House in Albany.
Like most of my friends, I was dismayed when Trump won. Unlike most of them, I refuse to catastrophize about it, and I’m willing to cut him some slack and hope for the best. Nevertheless, I planned to spend the day watching the inauguration while drowning my sorrows in cheap Chablis from a box. Strangely enough, that never happened. I found myself caught up in the spectacle of the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next, the gracious way the Obamas passed the trapping of power to the Trumps, the way presidents from opposing parties sat peaceably together to witness the swearing-in ceremony.
Until he ran for President, I confess I rather liked Donald Trump. I occasionally watched The Apprentice, then The Celebrity Apprentice. When I visited Manhattan to visit the museums and the midtown galleries in the 80’s and 90’s, I often stopped in at Trump Tower to ride the escalators up and down, ogle the waterfall and the gorgeous orangey marble walls, and browse the luxury boutiques. Then I’d sit at a table in the lobby for coffee or a cocktail, enjoying the sensation of partaking in the over-the-top opulence and luxury. Politically incorrect, perhaps, but in those days, I never associated Trump with politics. Probably, neither did he.
In a couple of hours, I plan to march in Albany in solidarity with millions of women—and men too, including my husband—throughout the country. Now, more than ever, we need to stand strong for women’s rights, along with many other human rights and environmental issues that will come under attack with the new administration. But I refuse to succumb to fear, anger or despair. Life’s too short. To paraphrase John Lennon and Yoko Ono, All I am saying, is give Trump a chance. And pray to the Higher Power of your choice.