I’m up in Whitefield, New Hampshire, for my old friend Jen’s 40th. There are four of us, between us we have ten children, and we have had a lot to drink. We met a lovely Bulgarian waiter, Todor, who wisely declined to guess our ages (That’s Todor, left). I am going to set him up with my friend Rhonda in New York. I am just drunk enough to think this is an excellent idea. Ten inches of snow fell here today, on top of the two or three feet that was already on the ground, and we are inside with Austrailian Shiraz and Bulgarian Todor, who I think is really warming to the idea of meeting a lovely, self-sufficient and experienced older woman (who is a citizen) on the say-so of a drunk lady he’s never set eyes on before tonight.
It’s both a sad night and a celebration, at the same time. I was supposed to go to the presidential inauguration tomorrow, but the roads were impassible and flight was delayed, so there was no way I could get back to NYC or to DC in time. My husband, who works for a congressman and campaigned his tushy off for Obama, was really looking forward to our going together. It was very important to him for us to experience this truly historic moment a deux, surrounded by 3,999,998 others who would someday truthfully tell their grandkids that when the first black man was sworn in as President, they were there. I totally get it. This is GIGANTIC. My husband worked so hard for this, and I was going to be there to share in it. I even Â bought Spanx.
But as much as I felt privileged to have a ticket and proud that against all odds our country got it together (with the help of thousands of right-minded volunteers) to elect such an extraordinarily wise and thougthful man to be the leader of the free world, the truth is, I would have been happy to watch him take his oath on TV. It will be cold, and wet, and I have a tiny bladder, and wasn’t relishing the 8 hour drive down to DC from NYC on slick roads. When I think about all theÃ‚Â Baby Boomers who lie about Â having attended Woodstock, I think, had I been more than just one at the time, I would have preferred to experience my counter culture for the comfort of my couch.
Jen, Sienna, Alison and I have spent a large part of this weekend musing over how much freer we feel, as women whose ages are undesirable for a Bulgarian waiter to guess, to not be bound by the “shoulds” that used to govern us. And it’s true! A positive about getting older if there ever was one. I would have felt exactly the same way about the Inauguration and Woodstock when I was 22 as I do now, but I would have felt as if there was something wrong with me for not wanting to roll in the mud with a bunch of stoned smelly people (Woodstock) or stand out in the cold with a bunch of sober, scrubbedÃ‚Â Democrats (tomorrow’s Inauguration) to see a man whose head will be the size of my thumbnail, we’ll be so far away.
Instead, at 41, I feel OK about experiencing history the way most people will: on the small screen. It will be no less momentous to me in my living room with my kids than it would have been on the Mall.
Paul is still going, but gave my seat away to a woman in her 80s who has cancer and cannot stand but was still so intent on going that she was willing to try. Paul’s went to her caretaker, who is in her 70s, and was willing to stand because a black man being sworn in as president was a moment she never thought she’d witness while she was still alive. As for me, I’m so, so glad she got to.