28 June 2006

I am up before noon.

Really up, upright, seated at the table, feet flat beneath me on the tile floor, watching my brothers bleach the back porch. I've made breakfast and am reading the Leisure & Arts page of the Wall Street Journal beneath the warm stripes of sunlight that fall through the skylights over my face. It's been a long time since I've read this page. I'd forgotten what mornings are like when you actually get up.

There is time to read the gallery and book reviews, time for strawberries in my cereal, time to watch Abby and Lydia fight over who gets to make a castle out of the cereal boxes, and time to pour Andrew juice. I can talk to my dad before he leaves for work. When I make the coffee, Dad says that I brew it too strong, but when I drink it black my day improves with each measured sip.

Last summer I stayed out late just often enough to tip the balance of my days. In the mornings Johnny would come knock around six-thirty and I'd crawl out of bed fifteen minutes later to drive to the Physical Therapists. I was never really awake yet so I remember those primeval hours only in snatches, flashes of brightness beneath florescent lights and a drop-ceiling, in a room with pink walls, sound bytes and voices, first impressions slowly filling in, as Matt's sarcasm and Mark's dry humor became familiar and the regular patients occupying the two rows of doctor-office-beds learned our names.

It was like a parade or a two-person circus, lunging and skipping down the center aisle between the beds. Johnny was doing some agility work to prepare for fall track and I joined in, not awake enough to realize the absurdity of the drills, all the crunches and push ups. I felt my way after him and followed instructions in a haze of four hour's sleep, determined not to let it show.

But it showed. I didn't say a word and they noticed. My sister answered the phone at this office in the afternoon and when she came into work Matt would ask her questions about me—“Is Hannah shy? Is she grumpy? Does she like coming here at all?” I liked it but didn't have the energy to show it. I liked how all the injured athletes and the retired policemen and the grandparents sat and talked about town gossip that I'd never known existed. I liked that they had a back porch full of tomato plants. I liked looking at the blind albino frogs in the fish tank by the front desk—they had such long teeth. Someone told me they could bite fingers off. Was this true?

I liked making my fifty-cent cup of coffee when the workout was all over and drinking it slowly as we drove away to work.

This summer Ruth has my old job at WAJ. She comes home in the afternoon and tells me stories about the waterfront and lunch break and all the people I know. So many of the same staff came back. I worked my first day teaching private swim lessons today and it had me up far before usual.

All the sudden you wake up and it is summer. There are birds in the yard and you are not sure of their names, but they have been waking you up to cool summer mornings since you were small. The humidity slips into the house early, between your feet and the tile floor, you hear it click with each barefoot step. You cross the lawn to feed the rabbit and water the garden. Water from the garden hose tastes a certain way and the morning glories have opened along the stone wall and you are driving to the beach soon in an old blue Bonneville, with sagging ceiling cloth and rolled down windows, breathing air that smells like a memory.

It's always been summer on these days in the middle of summer and in the summer you always get up early and go to the water.

3 comments:

Andrew said...

spammed! horrah to early mornings

Brianna Springer said...

Hannah, that was just beautiful. I've always wondered what it would be like to have lived in the same place for many years. You gave me a lovely glimpse of that. ("All the sudden you wake up and it is summer. There are birds in the yard and you are not sure of their names, but they have been waking you up to cool summer mornings since you were small.")

Thank you. :-)

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