It’s quiet. In a neighborhood often besieged with barking dogs (mine), local traffic and kids heading to the park, there’s no noise right now save for the nearby freeway. Yes, it’s only 5:30am but this is Los Angeles. Someone is always going somewhere.
Years ago, before I met my husband, before we had children, I lived by myself. I’d recently been through a personal and prolonged rough patch and come out the other side – not entirely unscathed but ridiculously hopeful. I’m not completely sure what possessed me at the time but I set my alarm for 5am every morning and, get this, actually got out of bed. Coffee was, and always is, the first order of business, followed shortly by the newspaper. Back then, when no one was asking me for anything, I’d read the news pretty much cover to cover, although I’d usually skip the business section. I assumed those pages were strictly for business people. I was working in television movies at the time. What did I care what the stock market was doing or who the latest CEO under indictment was? Dang. Wish I’d paid more attention back then and bought some Apple shares. I digress.
What I recall more than anything from those mornings was the sense of possibility I had for the coming day. Even if something heavy were weighing on my mind, I’d go out for a run after reading through the front page, and undoubtedly come home with a clear head and a feeling of perspective. By the time I was in my car headed off to work, the day was well under way. The morning had been mine and more often than not I’d managed to point myself in a direction I was comfortable with.
Oh my, how things have changed. Keep in mind that I hail from a family of champion sleepers. You know those creepy individuals who thrive on no more than 4-5 hours of shuteye a night? Who sweat on a cold day because they’re so full of energy after a seven-minute nap? Yeah, they’re not Egans, and I’ve been recovering from “new mother sleep deprivation” for years now. My youngest is seven, and she and her sisters are champion sleepers also, so I sense the “I was up with the baby” excuse disappeared awhile ago but, well, hmmm…
And so here’s what’s happened. As my friend Ann so aptly described it, I’ve been chasing “me” time throughout each day and failing miserably to find it. Instead, I wait until the girls are in bed and then stay up too late reading and watching television, wake up groggy the next morning at the same time my daughters start wiggling their toes, and generally begin the day five minutes to an hour behind. I never, ever catch up. About now, with accumulation, I’d say I’m about four and a half years late on everything. My life has not been bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Last week, I decided to try and change the picture, and the week before that and the week before that. Hell, I’ve been trying to turn this channel for years now. Except for reasons unknown, last week it actually worked. I hit the snooze button a few times, but was generally up, reading and writing and drinking coffee, by 5:40am. I owned a little part of my world, quietly, for about ninety minutes. By Friday afternoon, I was tired but it was a good tired. I realized the girls and I had been getting along better because I wasn’t constantly telling them “wait a sec,” while I finished up something I needed to do. Oh I’m still behind. The to-do list is preposterous, but I was able to chip away at it ever so slightly, I believe, simply because I hadn’t started out each day behind. I felt hopeful again that the days weren’t going to get away from me like they’ve been doing for the past ten years.
This morning, I managed to have coffee in hand and started the day by 5:30. The dog is confused. The husband is curious. The girls don’t know what’s going on except that their mother suddenly has found time to hit the volleyball with them a few afternoons even though the dishwasher has to be emptied. You see, I’m feeling better about my prospects. I’m confident the chores will get done, eventually, because I’m not so anxious about finding that time, searching for that moment, when I can just be quiet, and fool myself into thinking things are okay, that everything will be all right. Even if they’re not, I’ve already taken my breath and crept into the day, gently. It feels good.
That leads me to a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking – second guessing some decisions I, and others, made over the weekend.
Let’s start with Friday evening and agree that not all Beatles songs are created equal. The sixth, seventh and eighth graders where my daughters attend school held a concert and sang songs by the Fab Four. They did an outstanding job but I was a little distracted listening to some of the kids singing lyrics that were clearly written under the influence of mind-altering substances. Do we really need to hear “Octopus’s Garden” and “Yellow Submarine” ever again? Just asking.
My husband is usually the one who takes our daughters to the movies, but I sensed he wasn’t wildly interested in sitting through “Letters to Juliet”. Since I have a crush on Gael Garcia Bernal, Amanda Seyfried and Franco Nero, and think Vanessa Redgrave is a living legend, I took the girls. It’s a charming little movie, absurdly predictable, but the filmmakers waited much too long to bring Franco Nero out. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve believed him to be the most handsome man on earth (besides my husband, of course). He doesn’t make a lot of movies that I want to see and how many times can one watch “Camelot”? So I was disappointed that he only appeared in the last quarter of the movie. Forget about plot structure. I just wanted to look at his eyes longer than I was allowed on Saturday afternoon.
I would’ve finished folding all of the laundry on Sunday BEFORE Bowie the dog came over to see whether we were worthy of him or not. We’re looking for another “friend” to love, and with whom Shelby can play. I think Bowie is perfect for us but he lulled me into a kind of somnolence with his different colored eyes and old-soul disposition. I barely got anything else accomplished the rest of the day after he left. Maybe I was just tired from getting up early all week.
I never said it was easy.