There’s a large, rather alarming red stain on the sidewalk outside my apartment. After several moments of examination, a few oregano flecks told its story. What is now a sidewalk stain was once a jar of tomato sauce, perched too precariously in an overfull bag of unperishables, moved with haste from car to front door.
My dad eats half an avocado every morning. He wakes up and leaves the house before dawn, but still, every morning, he slices an avocado and fries an egg on a special skillet that no one cleans right but him. There’s usually some sort of specialty cheese in his fixings. He consumes his breakfast in a hurry, because he’s got to leave time to empty the dishwasher (if he hasn’t already) before he heads out the door. He often takes homemade whole-wheat toast in a paper towel. I don’t know how he manages not to drip honey on himself while he drives. He often leaves the news on for my mom.
Most of my favorite writing happens in bed. Each morning promises something different, and it’s a promise—not a swear, not an oath, not a hint. A promise feels more honest; it feels more hopeful.
This particular morning, there’s a round window high above me, casting the most perfect light on Hudson’s profile. His nose is short. I guess I’ve never realized that before. Hudson’s in our bed because we’re visiting family, and we’re sharing a room. He woke up in his pack-and-play too early, and hoping to get another half hour of sleep or so, we brought him here.
As I write this, I’m eating a leftover burrito for lunch and thinking about all the people who would never eat a burrito— leftover or otherwise—for lunch, So obviously, I’m being very gentle with myself today.
There are fall sounds outside my window while I wake up: Breeze weaving through leaves and making them shiver, wind occasionally bumping up against my windows, and making their knuckles crack. Maeby’s whispering (snoring) from her bed, and Jeremy’s not snoring at all, but I like that I can hear his inhale and exhale. I can perch my head between his shoulder blades and breathe with him. It’s like a meditation. We have two panels of windows in this room, but it’s darker than it usually is—gentle on the morning eyes. All of this coincides with clean sheets, which is a special sort of magic.
Last night I stubbed my toe hard against Hudson’s high chair. The S-word is made for just such an occasion. Sometimes upon a stubbed toe, it leaps involuntarily from my mouth, though even in my toe-stubbing exasperation, I’m always careful to omit the vowel so it doesn’t count as a full swear. That way, it seems more like expressive onomatopoeia rather than cursing.
I like so many things about fall, but the chieftest of which is putting a bare foot onto the first cold floorboard of the season. I like hopping into a hot shower to wash off the shivers of the morning instead of the sweats of the night. I like the first authentic sweater.
I realized tonight, while hunting for a pen, that somewhere in the dusk of recent memory, I’d replaced my journals with planners. I’d had every intention of making a tidy square in tomorrow’s box that I could check off as soon as I bathed Maeby. But my epiphany gave me pause. I stopped. I took a mental inventory: on the wanting scale, how badly did I want to bathe Maeby, or rather, how badly did I want to write in my planner that I needed to bathe Maeby?
I could feel anxiety in my toes this morning. Sometimes, though not always, that’s where it starts. It’s like those cartoons characters who wring their hands with stress, almost maniacally. But I’ve never seen anyone actually do that. For me, it’s much less theatrical, but more realistic—I wring my feet. Point and flex, point and flex, shuffle shuffle shuffle.