Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Everything Interesting Happens in the Dark

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.


  1. This resonates so much with me (which perhaps you might have expected) - on so many levels. This is me: "I have stolen back a piece of night I was too tired to spend the day before." Forever though I have been that morning person who gets up and sits, alone with her thoughts and the silence (and no coffee - don't even like the taste of that stuff). I love to get up in the morning - even when sleep has been insufficient and I am still tired. i look forward to finding out what characters are active in my mind. I also need to get outside - after an hour or so of solitary time, I continue my reverie in the outside world - walk, or bike ride , or something to feel the world out there. But alone. Alone is good. and I wonder where the days are going and what is the point. And, like this morning, I wonder why the nighttime dreams and what is my self saying to my self? and I get visuals in my mind that I can paint later, when the light is there.
    I really liked your post. You inspire me. Thanks!

  2. I love your writing style Tara. And man have I had similar thoughts about this life we call parenthood/adulthood. ;)

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  4. I hope it isn't called adulthood because I'm not yet ready to an adult. Not that that matters or that adulthood waits for us to be ready I suppose... but I too feel the days run together .. sometimes one as flavorless as the other...

    As to your "note" .. can we call it something like .. "writer's license" .. they have poet's license so why not writer's license.. I think we should all be allowed it. Whaddya say? :D

  5. This was a fantastic piece!

    There's something to be said for scheduling, though. I am unable to divide my day into pieces. It sounds great to be able to take things as they come, but that turns into a disaster if you have even the most basic responsibilities.

    I spend most of my time putting out fires that would not have popped up if I'd been able to keep a simple "To Do" list.

  6. I'm not a night owl. At all. But, last night, instead of sleeping, I stayed up and wrote. (I'm so far behind on NaNo, I'll never catch up. Two days! ack!) Anyway, I wrote for 3 1/2 hours, in the dark and quiet. It was lovely. I'm dragging today, but thinking of staying up again.

    Writing is such a wonderful escape. So is reading wonderful writing, like yours.


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Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License