|Almost 6:30: Time to hit "publish."|
My cell alarm starts its jingle; I shower, already awake. Downstairs is the smell of dark grounds run through with hot water, tropics from a jar. Poured in a cup, it burns my tongue, a wonder in a mouth burned so many times before. Many years ago, it stopped tasting bitter. Now it tastes like morning prayer. Add soy milk, screw the lid and sit. Take vitamins and pills.
It will be dark for two more hours. I have stolen back a piece of night I was too tired to spend the day before. As every morning, I am up by myself. Just me and my computer, the coffee, and my words. I sip, I type, and I wonder when I first forgot how old I am. When did all the twenty-fours starts running together, blurring into streams of never-ending waking and repose? When did habits start to wear the suits of truths and set stubborn lines in my skin? Is this adulthood, this sense of static time?
When I was younger, I lay in bed, as if there would always be time to write. The morning attacked me, throwing sheets and buffeting pillows against my head. Everything interesting happened at night. Night, when no one wanted anything from me and I could do whatever I pleased. I was dragged with sandpaper eyes from sleep I was not finished with. Clothes were never clean, dishes never washed, and I kept having to go to school or work.
"Three hours," I'd groan to my friend as she drove us both to school.
"Three?" she'd say. "I got two."
"Coffee," we told the barista in the college cafeteria, and got the largest size. We forked over the rest of our meager earnings to buy breakfast potatoes with scoops of salsa and sour cream.
Very little writing got done. A great deal of dancing, though, and sitting at one of any of fourteen cafes in my hometown, also flirting with boys on motorcycles, and a certain amount of working at cafes. Tremendous scholarly work was done. Whatever could be gleaned from leafing untutored through The Joy of Sex, The Bhagavad Gita and The People's History of the United States. I researched and wrote a term paper in a single night and got an A. As my friend pulled up to get me, pages were still printing out. Endlessly, endlessly, I was chased by day. Give me enough time in darkness and I can conquer the world. (Or dance with at least one more boy.)
It's not day chasing you, you idiot. It's Time.
Then here I am, a thousand years later, a million years old, encrusted with lichens and mold. I am up at ridiculous hours, taking vitamins from pill boxes marked with days of the week. My joints ache, and I can't stay awake until ten. I worry about college savings and I continually check my children's grades by use of an online device like a camera in a dressing room. "Power School." Like "X-Ray Vision." I have divided the days with a protractor into thin slices of flavorless pie. I call this "scheduling."
The part I like best is still this part in the dark, though, stolen away from duty and prescription, hidden away from work. I still research and write my term papers on the fly and publish them as people start to wake. I still live by the skin of my teeth and dance with strangers in the dark. If I wasn't a writer, I suppose I'd have to run away from home.
*Note: I will take a page from Tangled Lou and remind everyone that I like to play with ideas here, so please don't ever take anything I say as some sort of personal statement of my truth. It's more honest to say it's a kind of mental rabbit I followed down a hole. So, I do like my life and I am not running away from home. But I do love the mental world available to me through writing.