It’s just before twilight as I write. The sun, coming from the southwest, is gilding the living room where I work, now, in our odd new world; it lights up the plants that sit on the windowsill but no longer has the power to turn the two Museum of Modern Art solar-powered mobiles I’ve suctioned onto the glass.
When I walk over to the windows, I look over rooftops to the Hudson, majestic, bedecked with long red barges and the small muscular red tugboats that push them along. The light gets more reddish-gold as I stare at it; soon it will fade but it will work through a spectrum of blues as it moves to black.
It’s very beautiful, very serene — and very deceptive. The world is going insane, cloaked in protective beauty.
But really, seriously, it feels like things are changing.
The pared-down inauguration reminds me of the spartan weddings, bar and bat mitzvah celebrations, britot, and other milestones that we’re hosting now. It’s not entirely the same, of course — like the incoming administration, we’re shielding against covid, but not against the threat of armed insurrection.
Although certainly none of us want to have barebones celebrations because a microscopic virus forced us to do it, if it also forces a reconsideration of how lavish a party has to be if it is not to be embarrassingly small. If this pandemic allows us to recalibrate our parties, to figure out how much is enough and how much is too much, that would be a very good thing, if not worth it at the price we had to pay for it.
And maybe, just maybe, the tone in the outside world will be different now. Maybe some of the bile will de-acidify.
For healing to begin, it’s necessary to acknowledge that the election was not stolen. The big lie that the election was dishonest has been starting to dissolve as it is exposed to more and more sunlight — we know that some of our readers to do not want to hear that truth, but it is necessary to say it.
And covid — it’s a real glass half-empty, glass half-full thing we’re living through now. More than 400,000 Americans have died of this disease. Most of them have died alone. That is a horror that it is hard to grasp, because our imaginations shy away from it. Those of us who have lost a parent in that terrible way know that we will be picturing those last moments for the rest of our own lives.
On the other hand — and how do you say that? but still, on the other hand — the vaccine all of a sudden seems real. It’s still very hard to get, but probably by now just about all of us knows someone who’s gotten it and others who are on the list and will get it soon, should the supply hold.
So as we mourn all the lives lost to the virus, and to the incompetence and politicization that surrounds it, we also look forward to the day when we can hug our friends and invite them inside our homes, maskless, for a long evening of eating and drinking and talking and story-telling and memory-sharing and laughing. Lots of laughing.
An evening that will include not one mention of Donald J. Trump.