mornings like those

My mornings have long been beloved treasures. They’ve shifted in form throughout my life, but from the beginning have been marked by a sacred peace.

Karl and Peggy 024

I don’t remember the above at all, but I’m sure it was one of my favorite mornings when I was small. Karl was (and still is) the best big brother for whom a kid could hope. Snowball (that wise old bear) sits in that exact spot in bean’s crib.

A little bit older, I remember driving in the car, strapped into a carseat (but facing forward as big girls do) and looking out the window at the uniform flashing of streetlights across my vision. The factual timeline of my life tells me I was in Virginia, after I left Mama Piña but before I attended St. Matthew’s pre-K 3. Those morning were early (aren’t they all?) and the brilliant lights kept my mind off of the cold that seeped beneath my winter puffer, and the day ahead filled with really just wanting to be back home with my daddy and my mommy and Karl and patience and alex.

Then, Newport RI. Mom stayed home because la’M had arrived. So we snuggled under the covers until the sun came up and we walked to the bus stop, all of us together, Maddy in her bassinet and Karl and I in uniform plaid. We stomped on crunchy leaves and on rainy days brought our newspaper boats to float upon flooded-gutter streams.

Nebraska, oh Nebraska. We went to school so early; “morning care,” they called it. Karl was off being an almost teenager and I was left to entertain myself (mancala is fun even when you are the lone player) or I helped the aides set up chairs and sweep the floors. Sometimes my teacher, Mrs. Gold at the time, would come downstairs and gather me up to set up all the chairs in her classroom as well and erase the boards from the day before. She would let me draw on the boards too, as long as I left no evidence. The other children would have surely been jealous of such an allowance. I recall one morning in particular: as I moved to take down the second table of chairs, I chundered a mashed up rainbow of lucky charms down the my just-pressed uniform and onto the freshly swept floors. I felt so very bad; the aide helped me clean up and then Mrs. Gold collected me. Little did I know my dad was on his way to pick me up and take me home. I heard about it later that day and was so sad to have missed the chance of another car ride with him.

Washington mornings were most glorious in the summer. I was free. We lived on base, so I was allowed to wander and while wherever I wished. I climbed tall trees for plums, following their journey from hard and tart to sweet and soft to saccharine and mush. I squirmed through the blackberry bushes, brambling my elbows and knees but not caring one bit. I ran (slowly) and hid with the other neighborhood kids, playing epic games of capture the flag as every team’s favorite handicap. All this before my lunchtime siesta.

Those first years in Hawaii, I lost my mornings, even during the summer. Buses and traffic and frantic studying took hold of my life. Summers were…fleeting. And full of lazing about in pre-teenage angst. And teaching Henry phonics (I was not nearly so patient then.) But that all changed when I commandeered Karl’s surfboard and passed my driving test. Mornings were spent on patrol, catching waves in the pre-dawn twilight and then letting them pass me by as I watched gold flood the sky. To date these are my favorite mornings (aside from my current ones.)

Then the endless summer ended, and I was off to South Bend, Indiana. Mornings there were also mine. An early riser on a college campus is rare (aside from the swimming and crew teams) and often I would wait on the stoop outside of South Dining Hall to get my cereal. Heart to heart was my favorite, doused in (horror upon horror) soy milk. I would unfold the Wall Street Journal and read about this and that, usually in sports and art and maybe something on the front page. Slowly the dining hall would fill with bleary eyed students dashing through for a quick bite before their 8:30s.

Oxford mornings were even more mine. I rarely slept there, and if I did, went to bed at either 7 pm or 3 am. Either way I’d wake at 4 and go for a run or a swim. Then I’d shower, brazenly, never locking the door because what is life without a tasty bit of risk? I’d change into one of my four outfits and amble down the cobblestones to St. Alyosus where I’d pray and sing and cry because life made no sense at all, and neither did Topology.

Then the beginning of my early-twenties crisis (read all about it below below below): even these mornings were okay. I’d get to work earlier than early, 4:30 or 5, just so I could have some quiet time to myself and prepare for the dreaded day to come. I’d make my tea, breathe in the musty air, sigh at the windowless room, and boot up my computer for nine hours of staring at the seconds ticking by. But they were my mornings, and they were all that seemed to belong to me at the time, and I loved them for that.

And here I am, out of work, in love, and still having some lovely mornings. They are no longer “mine”, but the sharing has made them all the brighter. Perhaps one day, that day will begin with a dawn patrol of the sweet morningtime swells, maybe emerson and I will go pick berries in our backyard, maybe I’ll even be in the car again, counting streetlights on my way to a job. I really cannot say. But whatever happens, I’ll always welcome the sun, and bid the moon farewell, thankful for that in between time.

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