Since the day of his election, Donald J. Trump has chosen to stay in his perch high above midtown Manhattan, the most densely populated neighborhood of the largest city in the country. He has created a security nightmare. Barricades block Fifth Avenue, cops with machine guns patrol the sidewalks, pedestrians are re-routed, bags are checked. The city is spending upwards of a million dollars a day to keep the president-elect safe.
The headquarters of America sit just on the edge of all this, one block from Trump Tower. It’s always in your face. One of my co-workers recently walked down the block to Tiffany & Company, which sits flush against the Tower, to buy his wife a gift for their wedding anniversary. Along with the machine guns, metal barricades and checkpoints, scores of people thronged the street to soak in the madness. Ed couldn’t get in to Tiffany. Or he could have if he tried but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.
Nevertheless, markets are fluid, people are resilient, supply shutters here and demand pops up over there. We are figuring out new paths. You meet a few cops, catch a bit of neo-formalist beauty in the way the silver barricades lock in and line the streets. You walk down a street you have rarely gone down before. “The Lion” with Dev Patel and Rooney Mara is playing at the Paris Theatre on 58th Street, the marquee decked with palm fronds that signify festival awards. “The Lion”? Why hasn’t anyone told me about “The Lion”?
I passed by a restaurant called Nobu. Haven’t I heard of Nobu? Isn’t that where the stars congregate? Nobu! A block and change from America House! Mr. Trump gets elected and the city is upended and suddenly you find yourself caught in the faint glow of the Washu Beef Gyoza that, perhaps, Mila Jovovich loves so.
A month in and it’s becoming just a touch more normal—his election and the way it has upended the city. And not normal in the way some people rail against—don’t “normalize” this! Just normal in the sense of reality. In a month, he is president. It is a true fact. Once you name the facts, own the reality, then you can do something about it. Rise up in some heroic political way, or sit down quietly and watch Dev Patel on the silver screen, because why should the election of the man down the street ruin the small pleasures of life?
Ed ended up going home to New Jersey and, instead of buying jewelry, ordered tickets for an Eric Clapton concert in March. “I figure, why shouldn’t I get something out of this,” he told me. “It’s my anniversary too.”
Joseph P. Hoover, S.J., is poetry editor at America.