Out of the shadows
Every day my alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m., only I’m already awake. Awake and nursing Max, whose internal clock is inexplicably and maddeningly set to exactly 15 minutes before whatever time I decide I need to get out of bed for the day. I fumble around for the off button, awkwardly attached to a baby and half-propped on one arm, and then I fight the ever present lure of sleep while simultaneously urging Max to surrender to that very thing. Rising from the bed once he is back to dreaming is my first major feat of the day, and I tell myself that achieving said feat is surely setting me up for success and brilliance in all things. Then in the shower I slather conditioner on my face.
If, the night before I have managed to poke around in my drawers full of wadded up clothes or dresser top piled with clean (I hope) laundry to select the things I’ll wear for the next day, then I have a sliver of hope that what I put on can be referred to as an “outfit.” If instead the evening got away from me and I naively decide to wait until morning, all is lost. Those are the days I fish around blindly in my room with no lights, towel-covered and dripping, hoping that what I choose will 1. Cover the necessary parts of my body; 2. Fit(ish); and 3. Be clean enough that the stained sections can be covered with a jaunty scarf, or at the very least, crossed arms. Then once I’m clothed, I try hard not to think about what I’m wearing for the rest of the day. Which is difficult when the elevator in your building is a giant reflective surface and your office is on the 9th floor.
On good days I’m at my computer and working by 8 a.m., having gone from dark house to dark parking garage to elevator to windowless room—a temporary job space for the next two weeks where the only light comes from the fluorescent bulbs above and the glow of the 22-inch monitor less than a foot from my face. Every two and a half to three hours I go sit on the floor of another windowless room, this one a storage closet, and hook myself up to an electric pump, filling two bags with Max’s meal for the next day, or perhaps the one after that. All the while thinking: I miss the sky.
The upside of arriving at 8 is leaving at 4, and so back down the elevator and to the garage I go, finding my car and sliding on sunglasses only to discover their futility as I pull out into a torrential downpour. Turns out grey skies were what I was missing all day as I pecked away at my keyboard and pined for a view. What a slog, the interstate. Always, but especially for a commute filled with grimy spray from semi trucks and windshield wipers up so high they drown out my music. I contemplate buying of a SADD-prescription light panel to photosynthesize some mojo for my flagging, fading self. I contemplate buying a plane ticket to Maui. Instead, I put on my blinker and merge onto the exit ramp.
Now comes the task of collecting kids one and two, and so following a brief moment of stillness and silence after putting the car in park, I find them in their respective rooms and we run back to the car, arms over heads to shield us from the rain. It only takes two minutes to drive the few blocks home and trip up the walk to the front door, and then all three kids are here, happy, home, corralled with me and with each other. And then for the first time all day it happens: I finally see the light.