It is in the small hours when I am roused from sleep. Sometimes there is a clarity to the waking. A restlessness. I want to GO. To do something. To take a ride, to eat a bowl of cereal, to read a book. The shadows don't make sense in the clash between the kitchen light, the streetlight, and ambient night. I look towards the bookshelf. I take down a photo album and, once I get past being pissed about the pics where I am fifteen pounds high, I am lost in it. I am back in time and remembering that time has passed. A lot of it. Like a steady drip that becomes a roar until the drywall rots and crumbles.
Sometimes my cat will find me, confused that I am in his time. But he is happy to see me. Always ready to sit on a warm lap. I try not to turn on the computer. I think of all the people who write in the small hours and I feel guilty, but I don't want to write. That's not the way I do it. I wonder how much of my life I wasted trying to do things the way other people did them and failing. I won't let that happen to my girls.
I'm silly about it really. When my oldest was just learning to use scissors she would hold them upside down and get corrected until finally I couldn't take it. "Let her hold the goddamn scissors any way she wants!" And then I realize the anger is out of proportion and it's not about scissors anyway, and never was. It's about me.
But the small hours give me a kind of magic sight. I sit and watch the girls sleep, so limp and free of worry. Tiny little people with sweet breath that sits on the night air and makes you feel like laughing out loud. I look into four tiny brown eyes, and the love I feel in the small hours is almost crippling. I want to wrap it around myself. I want to throw it as far as I can, scared of its power. I want to keep it in my pocket forever.
My wife is sleeping and this makes me happy. She doesn't get enough sleep. She doesn't complain. I look out the window. I used to live in a city that was never quiet. There was always something. The small hours where I live now are silent and empty. I stare out the window at the moisture collecting on the tops of jolly rancher cars and I wonder.
Years from now, I will be an old man. I will have written more words than most people, but that will be all I contribute to the world. I hope my girls will want to hang out with their old man. I hope my wife will get more sleep.
In the small hours, my brain is slow and sensible...
I sit on the edge of the bed for what seems like ages. I pet the cat and listen to the breathing apartment and wonder what fate holds in store. Because there is so much to lose and so much to win. And I don't deserve it. But I hope to hell things keep going my way. I lay back on my pillow and think about time and money and all the things I don't have enough of. It all seems pretty stupid in the small hours when the house is filled with love and bemused shadows.
Beautiful and profound Dan. But I think you DID turn on the computer, judging by the time stamp. :-)ReplyDelete
Thanks Yvonne. ;) PM lady. Those are the big hours. :)Delete
Ah, JD, I love that "breathing apartment" and the refusal to give in to the circadian rhythms dictated by wakingness...Slow, slow, we love those girls, that sleeping woman, we enter your thankfulness.ReplyDelete
Again I feel refreshed, new, on a day filled earlier with anger. That is what you "contribute to the world," my world, so accept that and be thankful for that too.
I am thankful, Erin. ;) Much obliged.Delete
I've always love that surprised look on a pets face when you are not where you are supposed to be at a certain time. "Oh, your here, thank goodness!" That happy collision between the secret time of pets, different appliances making the sounds you don't hear during normal hours, strange traffic on the streets, the sleeping world out there full of promise, the echoes of a life time of late night adventures and thoughts. You captured it all.ReplyDelete
Thanks brother. You didn't do so bad yourself. ;)Delete
There is something about the night time, isn't there? Hopes, fears, plans...all take on a sharper reality in the dark of night. Everything seems possible. Everything seems clearer.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you take time to sort out these thoughts and I'm glad you shared them with us.
I agree with Ed. You've captured it all, my friend.
Thanks Jo, I appreciate the kind words. I have always loved 3am.Delete