The fraternity of early risers
Wakers from nightmares or anxiety dreams,
An elder who just doesn’t sleep,
The ones who work early and can’t stop their body from waking on precious days off,
Customers first-at-the-door for that first batch of coffee or paper.
Whyever the reason they’re up,
there’s a certain smile, a particular nod,
a tone underneath the good morning
the pleasant exchange of news regarding the weather
at the gas-station pump and in the aisles of the market,
as one yields to the other on the street or the crosswalk, allowing the turn.
We saw the sun rise, the sky brighten from starry to pearl-clouded to red-orange, then azure.
We saw the air creak and sparkle with cold.
We saw the moon sink, the snow solid and silent on branches before the heat of the day made it fall.
We saw possibilities, posed, before they became– realized, wasted, however.
We felt the world pause as we early risers met eyes and said silently, yes.
The day. It begins.
Whether we were buying the coffee or serving–
Whether we woke happy or not well-rested at all–
Whether we were up because we were alone and regretting, again,
Or content in our company and that of the world’s–
Once up, once early-risen, once dressed and about,
There’s a brotherhood there, just in the mere observation– Yes. I am up. You are up too. Things will begin, once again.
I would as soon miss the first breaths of the day as the first breaths of my body.
Who doesn’t want to be known– seen– acknowledged, even if just for a moment?
The fraternity of the why-in-hell-are-you-up-so-early are up for all kinds of reasons,
but we all dwell in the possibilities before they are spilt– spoilt– spelled for the rest to see clearly.
Leave the late nights to those who mutter on what’s been done or how things didn’t happen as planned.
Me? I’ll go to bed early.
Tomorrow always brings a fresh start.
On further contemplation of the problems of late– or the use(lessnes)s of enchantment at the end of the day
No, I don’t suppose having the powers of the gods in Ovid’s Metamorphoses would help.
After all, they acted out of anger, desire and heartache, just the same as we humble, mere mortals.
Being a wizard or witch or an all-powerful being from a galaxy far-far-away, the kind
in binding-cracked, yellow-paged books and those series oft-watched on tv and film, laughing at the sometimes cliched plotlines and bad makeup and yet at the same time wistful for a simple, pat ending, for such rapid-fire comebacks–
that wouldn’t help, either. Nor will rattling the joystick and cursing our lack of reflexes, though it all seems so real.
The object lesson is always the same– those powers are no hedge against hubris, no complacency-counter, no way to stop the just plain old forgetting to pay the kind of attention you’d want to be paid.
Those old gods were nothing more than ourselves, magnified, whether they were Ovid or some other teller’s. (In the end, is it a success or a failure of imagination that the gods were in our image, rather than transcended our miserable moods?)
It’s the golden rule, writ small or large in supernatural powers.
It’s the lesson we try to forget when we don’t want to get meta, just want to dabble in myth.
(More comforting, that, than facing what’s not black and white– technicolor– wide-screen HD– first person shooter or omniscient POV too– an escape from life’s everyday problems, the ones that seem so much more ingrained and entangled than what can be solved in a few hundred pages or an hour with just a few words from our sponsors– except one book, one episode, one game yields to another and then it’s 3 a.m., next week, next year, and where does the time go?)
Love as you want to be loved– or perhaps more accurately, love if you want to be loved– that’s the lesson to learn from the stories we tell ourselves instead of looking at our own lives.
Aren’t all stories love stories, when you look underneath?
The written tale– the tv series– the movie– the interactive RP or video game– the fiction is only that until we cross not through the looking glass but have to look ourselves in the mirror, when the teller of tales writes something so real it bowls us over harder and faster and more blinding white in its truth than that bull who carried Europa so far from her home.
(Not, we’re led to understand, that she wasn’t willing in some part to be carried, even as she was afraid of what might possibly happen– but so, too are we. Don’t we all want to be carried, sometimes?)
At the end of the day, just try to keep your eyes open.
Just be kind, just ask straightforward questions– like how was your day and then really pay some attention.
Don’t pose impossible riddles that make the interpersonal, psychological bridge one nobody can cross– don’t be a troll and cut yourself off from the clever, kind brother wanting to rescue the princess at the top of her tower, don’t be the alien dooming the puny humans to fail.
Oh– and step away from the story, at least for a while.
You might even feel transformed.
The problem of breakfast
It’s 10 a.m. and staring at the toaster will not make it happen, nor will wishing the caffeine into existence.
It’s not like we don’t have food– and I can certainly cook it. But having and doing are different and while I am a morning person, breakfast is different.
I don’t want it, even as I understand that I need it.
Two days’ old cords and a sweater over yesterday’s socks, underthings, a bare brushing of hair and a fleece, some approximation of footwear, my yuppie e-reader and I’m ready to go.
I don’t plan on sitting close enough to anyone else– not before my first caffeine– for my funky clothes to make me (more) antisocial.
Not that the cafe’s that kind, though I know the servers, the ones whom I like, the reliable sorts who’ve been there since the start– I might be a bit of a snot to the itinerant ones and the ones who are emo and sigh, roll their eyes when they have to stop smoking and come in and work.
Then again, the reliable ones tend to be long suffering about them as well, so I don’t feel so badly about taking their lead.
I slog through the ice in my Danskos– my cords bag, the belt slipping up at my waist and the gap between belt and waistband admitting the cold where the sweater isn’t the old baggy long thing I wore when I was heavy.
I’m between fits– I haven’t yet settled.
Except the cafe is closed– until further notice, sorry for the inconvenience— and I stand there, momentarily dumb, because what am I going to do?
Where am I going to cadge wifi, observe people, read e-books, work on my laptop, grumble to myself that the vaguely homeless people who use the cafe for warmth are especially boisterous today?
How am I going to be fed?
But then, there’s the diner, though I’ve been there only the once.
I don’t know why not more often.
Everything’s clean, even if it is spare and there’s no local art on the walls–the coffee is mild and hot even if I don’t know the name of the person who roasted the beans, the home fries are spicy and crisp.
If the eggs in my omelet come from the industrial foodservice truck and not the co-op– though veggie patties and avocado slices and melon aren’t an option (not that I get them that often, but I tell myself the options are nice).
If American cheese and not goat coats the tines of my fork, well– there’s still wifi to cadge, and the bus drivers giving each other a hard time during their breaks are a hoot.
The lawyer interviewing her client over steak and eggs and a laptop holds down one corner, an anchor.
The bleach-blonde latina fry cook tells the man who brings in kitty litter for the back lot how her kid’s enjoying the PS3 she got him for Christmas.
The sausage circles in my omelet are savory bursts in my mouth as I mull over my e-book, glowing against the clean faux-wood formica.
If my favorite alt-rock tunes aren’t on in the background, maybe I can learn to like conversation and the noise in my head.
Do I want some more coffee? How’s everything?
The fellow who took my order when first I came in is at my elbow, coffee pot in his hand.
My glasses fogged from the transition as I tried to (subtly, and probably failed) make my pants sit on my waist and not fall all the way off.
It took me a few moments to wipe off the haze, get myself settled, scan the menu board overhead and place my order–
but now– yes– more coffee, please.
There’s more than one way to get fed.