At this hour

I think it’s nice when the weather surprises you.

My father is different. He prides himself in predicting the day’s climate; he believes he has some kind of internal barometer – I think most men do. But I’m encouraged when I walk out onto my porch and something feels different, as it did this morning. The breeze is warmer than yesterday and heavy with moisture.

My neighbor smokes a cigarette on his stoop and I’m thankful for the two houses on either side of mine. He’s a jazz musician and we talk about maybe going up for his show in Dallas this weekend. He tells me he can’t sleep because he’s got this song in his head. We stand in silence for a moment and he says he’ll call me tomorrow and turns into his dark house.

I walk across the street to the coffee shop, already in his tomorrow.

The coffee shop is open 24 hours. A man I’ve seen before sits on the couch talking to himself. Students with red eyes make one last effort to digest their reading – most check Facebook. The barista has decided on Doo-Wop for the playlist.

The mop glides past me on the floor, leaving a trail of chemicals. The smell triggers memory, and I try to recall one morning in particular – what did I feel that cold day weeks ago? – but mornings start to blend together. I often forget how free the dark of predawn can be; I have to travel away for a while before I can value the beauty of blurry mornings again.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel part of something when you’re actually a part of it.

When I was younger and trying to write like Thoreau, I once scribbled in a journal:

Woe to the man who wakes up before the sun and fails to venture outside to witness its rising.

Maybe that sounds more like Moses.

At this hour – still – there is something worth coming back to. It’s different everywhere, but the soft feeling is the same. At this hour, here, today, the motorcycle across the street catches light; the air smells like it’s been filtered through leaves.

At this hour I’m a part of something again: A fraternity of women and men who believe they’ll find what they are looking for.