“It’s a lovely morning.”
Her breath escaped from her lips carrying the scent of a half forgotten dream.
I opened my eyes and took in the sunlight that softened the walls of the bedroom.
“It is,” I said, putting my arm around her waist, and pulling her closer.
We lay there together. I stared into the curve of her back. She stared into the whiteness of the wall. Both of us focused.
“What would you like to do today?” I asked. She released a soft sigh that hung in the air like a question.
“How about I go get us some coffee?” I said.
“What time is it?” she asked.
“A little after ten.”
Still sleepy, I stumbled out of bed and reached for my glasses. My jeans and t-shirt lay stale and abandoned on the floor.
“Hurry back love.”
“I will,” I said, putting on my jeans.
With my head muddled and confused, I stepped out into the new morning. I listened to the soft murmur of a city still asleep and to the churning of my thoughts that bubbled up from mysterious places.
The air was cool and quiet, embracing the backyard in a cloak of mist and fog. It was like a dance, this new day arising. It felt as if all the possibilities, if I could entertain them just for a moment, would swell up and blow me over like wind and waves. I would even say it was peaceful.
I was in the narrow alley behind our house when I had an indescribable feeling that somehow something was missing. Instinctively I felt my back pocket for my wallet. “No, it’s there.”
Just as the light poked through a patch of fog and illuminated the grey stones of the building that faced the alley, I suddenly sensed something of another quality, like a breeze from nowhere. It felt like an invitation to just settle into the moment, into things just as they are. Everything was more vibrant and alive. Then a car door slammed, just once, and this small opening in this new day closed. I was overtaken by thoughts. By plans. I tried to find that moment again, groping after it like a fat man in a marathon.
“I’m going to try to remember myself. I’m going to try to be here now, in this moment.”
I took a thoughtful, but exaggerated breath, and tried to bring my sleep soaked body into my feeble awareness.
“I have feet, legs and hands,” I said to myself as I tried to become aware of them.
I watched my thoughts appear and then, receiving no attention, drop away, back to their mysterious origin. I felt like a boat wandering aimlessly, tossing and turning over dark deep waters. For a moment, I realized that this is probably how I am most mornings, running through the random and the ridiculous.
A few moments later, I found myself at the local coffee shop, transfixed in front of several shelves of delicious looking pastries. The caramel covered chocolate brownies in particular, drew out a weakness in me.
Then in the low hum of morning conversations, soft jazz music and the clinking and clattering of cups, I remembered that I had forgotten all about trying to remember myself; to be here now.
”Maybe I should skip the brownies for today as a punishment,” I thought.
“Can I help you?” the young woman behind the counter asked
“Yeah, can I have two medium coffees and two of those amazing chocolate brownies?”
“Sure,” she said smiling gently.
She turned to get the coffee as I stood there fumbling over my wallet.
“Excuse me,” I said.
The woman placed the paper cups of steaming fresh black coffee in front of me.
“Yes?” she asked, picking up silver tongs and approaching the pastry case.
“Do you have any bad habits?” I asked.
She looked thoughtful for a moment and then she let out a quiet laugh, her face flushed.
“Umm, yeah I do,” she said, “I never live my life in the moment, y’know, like right now even though I try really hard to.”
A few seconds passed between us. It felt as though a door had opened, like an invitation to a deeper mystery. We stood there in the silence, simply looking into each others eyes. We were relating to each other, somehow. There was no need for words.
Then, a door slammed, and I returned to the white noise, the fluorescent lights, and to my thoughts, and plans.
“Yeah, I have that habit too,” I said finally, smiling with her.
I walked out of the coffee shop with the sounds of soft jazz music, the morning conversations and the clinking and clattering of cups fading behind me.
It was just before eleven. ♦
Pictured: Holly Lynton | Mean Ceiling, May 2004. C-print 17″x23″