I haven't written about politics in a while. I'm just kind of waiting and watching, like everybody else, I suppose. I've watched the cabinet picks unfold, and was glad to see my girl Hill get the nod for Secretary of State (I predicted that one; it's the only post that would truly be a star in her resume). I was impressed with the choice of Leon Panetta for head of the CIA (a strong voice in opposition to waterboarding and other torture methods for extracting information) and Steven Chu for Secretary of Energy (someone who's actually, uh, a scientist? with fantastic credentials in understanding both the causes of global warming and strategies for slowing/ stopping it through alternative energy sources, no less!). On the other hand, I am concerned about Lawrence Summers for head of the National Economic Council. My friends in Boston tell me he sowed nothing but dissent and misery at Harvard-- does not play nicely with others.
I was driving down Main Street of my fair city a few nights ago. We'd had a fairly large snowstorm, which had wound down until everything was coated thickly in one of those pretty new-snow blankets. The streets were plowed enough, though mostly empty, and the streetlights cast a golden glow on everything. I drove by all the churches on Main Street... the Presbyterians across from the Methodists, then the Lutherans, then the Episcopalians (across from the high school), and finally the Congregationalists. This music was playing in my car. Everything was so still. Everything was so beautiful.
Then I had a corny and sweet moment. It occurred to me: this is America, just before the inauguration. I can't even begin to try to convey the hopes of so many at this moment, so I won't. But... for the one or two people I saw hurrying along, bundled up as they were in their coats... I imagine that life is hard right now. Things are scary, uncertain. But there is this possibility that things might start getting better, even if, really, all that's happening is a thick and pretty covering of optimism falling and settling all around us.
I felt happy and excited, for just a moment, and then something odd happened. My family drove by in another car. There was the Impresario, along with Larry and Petra, and, of course, the Violist. In another car, going in another direction. And even though... I am happy, and life is good, and I was on my way to see someone wonderful, and the street was beautiful, and Obama's almost the commander in chief... I got a first-hand experience of how tentative and fragile everything is. Even my own life, even my own sense of family.