This morning when my alarm went off at 4:30, I felt like a weight was laying on my chest.
Maybe a small child.
A large dog.
A slumping stack of wet towels.
My husband laid his arm over my chest and pulled me to him. I hit snooze three times. He hit snooze four times. I whispered, “I don’t want to get out of this bed.” He said, “I don’t want you to get out of this bed.”
I went back to sleep for another hour.
At quarter till six, with the dark still seeping in through the tops of the window, I shuffled into the bathroom. No lights. Not today. I maneuvered in the dark. On my tip toes, as the tile floor is bitterly cold in the winter. I cut the shower on and turned the knob over to scalding before shuffling back out of the bathroom, out of my room, down the hall and into my son’s room.
Opening the door, I see the outline of his ever growing frame. His toes peek out from under the blanket. His ankles look as if they’re hanging off a cliff. “Wake up love. It’s nearly six, come on…” I say as I shake his foot. I shuffle back to the bathroom and as I peel my clothes off, I sigh deeply. Before getting in the shower, I stick my arm in to make sure it’s hot (as if the rolling steam out of the top of the glass doors couldn’t tell me that already).
My body aches. My eyes feel like heavy rocks in my skull. I notice my blinks are long and drawn out. Resting my head against the shower wall, I consider calling out of work. I don’t and instead, I make my way back into the bedroom and kiss my husband. He sleeps so peacefully, his left hand tucked under his face. I watch him breathing. I look at his long eyelashes. His two day old beard. I kiss his face more. Little kisses over and over, until a smile creeps up and he opens one eye.
“Time to get up,” I say. “It’s after six.”
We are all up and in various stages of the morning. Like a rusted out machine, we clank and clatter along. There is no beehive buzzing within us yet.
Packing lunches, I stop to kiss the side of my son’s stubbly face. “You need to shave!” He laughs and tells me that it’s No Shave November. I entice my dog Murphy with a treat, he gives me high five. I kiss my husband again, he winks at me and I try to wink back. We all tell one another goodbye, sealed with love and wishes of having a great day.
My car is cold and it’s still dark outside, but the street lights show me the fog hanging around. On my drive into work, I get stuck behind a school bus. Eventually I’m able to turn left and go the speed limit (if not a little more). I stop in at the coffee shop and sleepily, I tell the owner Good Morning. He says I look like Zooey Deschanel with my new glasses. I laugh. I tell him he’s half the man I remember from last year, as he’s lost so much weight. His cheeks turn pink.
I order a large Americano in a small cup (four shots, 1/4c water maybe).
The car is warmer. The traffic begins. Highway Patrol is out and about, as the Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching. Nothing causes gridlock faster than an appearance from the city’s finest. The fog still hangs around and the sun never seems to rise. I drive in silence, sipping my coffee, enjoying the quick breath of the morning.
I am on the fence on whether or not I’ll feel better by nine a.m.
A semi truck cuts me off, nearly taking my front bumper with him. I raise my coffee cup in a slow, deliberate cheers. Rounding the curve off the exit, merging with others. Yesterday I was stuck next to a white Maserati in traffic. Today I am behind a muted gray mini van with stickers for the local high school Lacrosse team.
At work, the beehive begins to stir. Coworkers start to shuffle in. By nine a.m. we realize the entire department has this cold. The one where it feels like we’re wearing three layers of wet clothes. Four people tell me their eyes feel like rocks in their skull. We take turns coughing into crooks of our arms.
It sounds like a Minute Clinic waiting room over here.
The sun is still trying to show face. Playing Peek-a-boo with our internal feel good meter. Lunch is served. Everyone is trying to be cautious because we all have this cold. I watch guys shuffle off with plates of food. I am not hungry, but I eat anyway. We all work- through the dragging feeling, through the paperwork, through the grey skies.
I’m letting music seep through my eardrums, down into my body. Pushing on, pushing the limits, pushing, pushing.
The last day of the week shouldn’t be this way, but soon we’ll all shuffle out of this place. Into our chilled cars, into seven lanes of brake lights and middle fingers. I’ll watch the sunset again at the halfway mark, the darkness creeping up my hood and squeezing me through the windshield.
I’ll stumble through the back door, kick my shoes off, kiss the side of my son’s stubbled face and kiss my husband hard. We’ll have supper, stretch out on the furniture, watch television or listen to jazz while we read books. The dog will want to play with his green doughnut. We’ll try to stay awake through a movie. The blankets though, oh the blankets. They’ll pull you into warmth and relaxation. They will carry us off to sleep. Carry us off so that our eyes don’t feel like rocks and our limbs don’t ache. The blankets will carry us off into Saturday.
And when I wake up, I’ll look over at my sleeping husband and know, that we don’t have to get up early. We don’t have to sit in chilly cars or fight traffic. We’ll pull the blankets over our heads and sleep till our bodies are refreshed.
Then, and only then, will we begin the weekend.