As the mornings start to warm, I think about early summer days a year ago, as witnessed from my porch. We took out a six month lease on an apartment off the highway that was lodged up in the trees and had a beautiful view of the pool. I liked to wake up as the sun came over I-35, sit out there and let the new day redden the backs of my eyelids. Nights, I’d stay up late watching the West Wing with the screen door open and think about being President of the United States and fall asleep on the couch. I’ve always liked falling asleep on the couch because you wake up earlier.
Most mornings, I’d wake because of birdsong or the sun peaking over the trees or the guy with the cats next door was loud. But some days, especially in the height of summer, there would be a splash or a scream that rattled the silence.
That apartment complex housed college students that looked remarkably like grown ups. It’s funny how earlier in life, five or six or ten years made a big difference in how old someone looked – you could tell a third grader from a sophomore in high school. But there comes a day when you walk to the mailbox and pass someone who could either be an account manager at some medical device company or the guy who yells “Rufio!” at 3:00am before jumping into the pool. Or maybe they’re the same person – I don’t know.
I like to wake up early because I think more clearly and get more things done, but it’s unsettling sometimes to think about how the early morning pool-goers are diving deeper into a night as I’m coming out of one. I wonder if I’m missing moments. While they’re floating on their backs balancing cigarettes in their mouths, looking like big maple leaves out there about to burn up, I’m thinking about fulfilling my potential and worrying about my savings account and swearing off the idea that no one would ever know if I took a few pulls of whiskey and made it down the stairs to join them.
I wonder when such an early morning hour became a time to wake up instead of the last moment when things could happen. I wonder why I believe that a good day is measured by things going according to plan and why we’ve started to find comfort in predicting tomorrow and why we applaud ourselves when we choose to not stay up late anymore because that’s an adult thing to do.
Some mornings that summer as I awoke, I swear I could hear myself out there by the pool telling a story about the time my high school friends and I lifted tacos from Taco Bell. I’d look through the blinds as the other me down there balanced himself on the fence by the pool, threw his arms up in a V and howled at the moon, letting the echo ring out for a moment. He’d look up to my balcony at me for a second as I brushed my teeth and leaned against the rail with a thousand things on my mind. And we’d both stand there for a few moments before he dove to chase the moon under the water and I scrambled to check my email.
And maybe we passed each other at the mailboxes later – me and the other me – in transit to whatever night or whatever morning we decided to be a part of.