Today I found myself looking at yet another picture of her, perhaps the 1,001st. Suddenly, I began to feel differently about her.

Until this moment, she was just the “first lady of the land” who, according to press reports, got married in a “$100,000 Dior dress that laborers’ hands had toiled upon for a legendary 550 hours, affixing 1,500 crystals.”

There she was, a few steps behind her prince, in yet another glamorous, stunning, fabulous designer creation, hair perfectly drawn down over her shoulders, carefully blown into amber waves, with eyes hidden by large designer sunglasses.

Behold Melania, that Melania, the breathtaking, tinsel-dusted Melania, from Sevnica in southeastern Slovenia. Her little town, we’re told, lies beneath Sevnica Castle atop Castle Hill.

We can see this Melania looking up at that castle each day, and imagining that she was a princess who lived in a magnificent bedroom high in the tower. Imagine.

Since the day she came on the American scene, floating just two steps behind Donald Trump, she has been constantly chastised as a social climber, porn photo queen, a manipulative mannequin who had managed to scramble out of poverty to become the first lady of the greatest nation on Earth.

All of that would make a grand opera, but it’s just a melange of media snapshots, mostly untrue and unfairly used as mud to splatter the Republican choice for president.

Yes, she shot all of those risqué magazine photos, just like hundreds of thousands of young models all over the world, and certainly right here in America.

Today, the little girl from Slovenia has her own castle, high in a Fifth Avenue tower, enshrined in a glass case like a priceless objet d’art, where she can look out and down on a magic city full of fun and treasures, glitter and splendor — none of which she can truly enjoy.

Her castle is surrounded by restaurants with the best, most expensive food and wine in the world, which her childhood friends from Sevica can never get anywhere near.

Melania can touch, sip and enjoy all of these things, but only if she sits quietly by the side of her husband, the man whom several millions call Mr. President, the tall, shuffling man in the oversized black coat, who sits in the royal chambers of the White House.

Melania can remain there only if she makes no comment or even clears her throat, giving the impression that she wants to.

She can remain there only if she smiles when he smiles, only if she never, at any moment, offers an opinion. If she can manage that, then the gold dust of opulence will continue to fall upon her.

And this is why, today, I suddenly feel sorry for her, and why all of you on the left might want to reconsider your growling animosity.

Imagine our fairy princess, all alone up there in her glass case, dining most nights with only her 10-year-old son, both toying with their specially cooked dinners, waiting for the phone to ring. Imagine before she draws the curtains, she looks down on the city of dreams, as the lights of Broadway flicker on.

I know that city; I was young in that city. I fell in love in there, built dreams and sang happy songs, surrounded by friends and lovers.

Who are Melania’s friends? With whom can she enjoy watching the first snow fall on Verdi Square, or share a corner table at a little neighborhood Italian restaurant, a seat in the theater, a bench overlooking the Queensborough Bridge?

To whom can Melania whisper a secret?

We know that Melania Trump, from Sevica, is watched constantly, not only by the Secret Service, but by her absent husband’s shadowy private security. There are no friends among them, only strangers with guns, who drift around her like smoke. Imagine.

I’m reminded of a scene in Orson Welles’ great film “Citizen Kane,” in which Charles Foster Kane’s beleaguered and lonely wife, Susan, whose life Kane has carelessly destroyed, sits in a great cavern of a room in his towering Xanadu, assembling a giant picture puzzle while the world outside passes by.

Susan asks, “What time is it, Charlie?”

“Half past eleven,” he replies.

“I mean in New York,” she asks.

“Half past eleven.”

She sighs, “Half past eleven! The shows have just let out. People are going to night clubs and restaurants. Of course, we’re different. We live in a palace at the end of the world.”

Yes. It’s late, Melania, but not too late.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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