It is a quarter to six. Our window is open. A thick layer of cloud stretches the expanse of the sky. Sprinklers twitch. Birds whistle. Their songs are long and breezy, as cool as the morning air. The tires of an early commuter's car crunch on the asphalt.
My eyelids are heavy. It takes me a second to focus past the blur of sleep. It's not time to get up. Most of the city is still sleeping, including my husband. He's buried in blankets and I can only make out his forehead and the bridge of his nose and the crescent moons of his closed eyes, fringed with dark, sleepy lashes.
I roll over slowly, so as not to disturb him, and settle back into the mattress for another forty-five minutes of sleep.
I wanna run through the halls of my high school.
I wanna scream at the top of my lungs!
I just found out there's no such thing as the real world,
Just a lie we have to rise above.
The alarm goes off at six-thirty. John Mayer annoys me. I squint against his gauzy voice and whiny lyrics, willing myself to stand up and shut him down.
Somebody narrates current traffic conditions. Long lines of cars are oozing over the Altamont Pass. Ambulances are shrieking toward the scene of a three car accident on 680 South. The Bay Bridge back-up isn't anymore severe than usual, but that's still pretty bad.
Then the DJs begin their shtick, bantering about celebrity gossip and movie releases. It occurs to me through the fog of fatigue that I loathe their voices. I miss Carolyn McArdle. The "best songs of the eighties, nineties, and today" aren't the same without her.
A long time ago, we learned it was necessary to place the alarm clock as far from my groping, snooze-button-smacking hands as possible in the morning. For a while, the idea worked. If I had to get up, navigate dirty laundry, books, shoes, magazines, and land mines in order to reach the alarm, there was a good chance I'd remain standing and begin my morning routine.
But again, that was a long time ago. Since then, I've evolved. Now I can schlump around the bed in my bare feet and bop the snooze button without opening my eyes more than a millimeter. Then I can roll back into the warm pocket beneath the blankets for another ten minutes of peace. Jon has become programmed to roll over and cuddle up to me upon my return which, if you ask me, is just reinforcing my bad behavior.
Not that I truly go back to sleep, mind you. My brain is awake. She's off and running around at Mach 3, and she wants me with her. She can't do much without me. Everything she wants to accomplish is tremendous in theory. An early morning walk. A swim. Breakfast at our kitchen table. Making a sandwich for lunch in order to avoid McDonald's. But the oh-so-motivated genius needs opposable thumbs in order to complete those tasks, and I'm not the most cooperative person anyway, let alone at oh-dark-thirty in the morning!
My brain surrenders and the pattern of my own deep breathing, coupled with the warmth of my husband's arms, renders me helpless. Just as I'm absolutely snug and content, feeling like I'm buried in warm sand and never need to leave because someone will bring me a coconut of milk to sip any second...
Why'd you have to go and make things so complicated?
I see the way you're actin' like you're somebody else
Gets me frustrated
Life's like this you
You fall and you crawl and you break
And you take what you get, and you turn it into
Honestly, you promised me
I'm never gonna find you fake it
No no no
Avril Livigne has never sounded so shrill. It's far too early for teenage angst. I struggle to hoist myself out of bed and around the footboard to smack the alarm one more time. I manage to cut her off before she can wheedle her faker boyfriend into taking off all his "preppy clothes," and it reminds me that I have zero clue what I'm going to wear to the office today.
This time, when I slide back in between the sheets, I'm fairly awake. The room is silent. Outside, a breeze tangles with a wind chime. Wind chimes used to hold some appeal for me. They were shiny, pretty, elicited quixotic tumbles of glassy sound. But then I watched the movie Signs, and the wind chimes became harbinger's of terror.
I notice the shadows playing on the broad, plain, white walls of our bedroom. The trees which were little more than saplings when we moved in five years ago are now broad limbed and healthy. The morning sun has pulled back the cover of clouds and is on her way about the sky accomplishing tasks. I hate her for making me look bad.
Jonathan mumbles something. I play with the fingers of his left hand. They are strong and thick-skinned, hardened by climbing.
Got nothing against a big town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who's in the little town
But my bed is in a small town
Oh, and that's good enough for me
Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that's prob'ly where they'll bury me
John Cougar Mellencamp (and no, I'll never drop the Cougar... it's excellent) knows plain poetry. He knows basic truth. But it's the trill of the harmonica at the end of Small Town which gives me goose bumps every time. What he sings about is so simple, and it's a piece of Americana which is unique and should be treasured. The strains of the harmonica are just enough to induce those flushed memories of happy childhood days... running through the sprinklers, playing dress-up, telling stories to my little brothers... it's all there, and replayed with this beautiful theme song.
So here, backed by the faint buzz of a lawn mower, the meow of my cat on the other side of the bedroom door, and the thrill I get just by being on the receiving end of a lovey look from my husband, is a wakeup call I can get on board with.