My new favorite time of day
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.” — Rumi
I was never one for sleeping in. I’m hard pressed to remember more than a handful of days where I slept much past 8am, and for the first decade of having kids I felt genuinely lucky if I slept until 7.
Sometime in the mid90s, I remember my mom started getting up at 5. When I’d come down the creaky old steps in the morning on south forest, she’d be hours into her day and usually cooking. Cabinets and drawers open, pots and pans and cutting boards out and the inevitable delicious smells of whatever she was making. Lisa was the calmest whirling dervish of productivity- a one woman kitchen orchestra.
Over the past few months I’ve transitioned into a pre-dawn waking routine. After more than a year of being medically tired- a parathyroid problem followed very closely by a thyroid problem that had me feeling slow, lifeless and rarely alert -I am happy to reclaim the privilege of being rested. I wish that this new era of awakeness was more intentional, but I simply wake up between 4:30 and 5:00am.
As my eyes open, I inventory the bird sounds. Who is greeting me this morning? Then I take my medication. For the first couple seconds my thoughts gently begin to form, and then they become a rushing flood. Eddies of to do lists, tide pools of hope, waterfalls of intention. I am awake.
Because it is summer, I drink my coffee on the roof of the porch and watch the sunrise while I check my e-mail and make my to do list. If the wind is right, I can smell low tide in the bay. One cup in, I begin to water the plants, then the garden, then the newly planted front yard.
Then the day begins. I bounce between breakfast and children and games and mini workouts and calls and dishes and sweeping and writing and jigsaw puzzling and brainstorming on post-it’s and zoom and snacks and texts and webinars and planning calls and bike rides and grocery shopping and laundry and board games and writing and beach trips until dinner. It is the day of a working mom.
Right now, it’s 5:45am Monday morning and instead of sitting on the roof outside my tiny bedroom, I’m sitting on the steps of my grandmothers house that I’m about to leave for the last time.
Over 25 years ago, my brother and I came to this little suburban cul-de-sac with my grandpa when they broke ground. We watched the foundation get poured and the walls go up. I went shopping with my mom and grandma for furniture that I never liked but could see delighted my grandmother. Years later when I lived here for a bit, I’d lay in the guest bedroom watching the ceiling fan spin while trying to tell myself I’d survive my mother’s death. Within these walls I hosted a bridal shower, a baby shower, dozens of birthday parties, hundreds of holidays and get togethers. It is as full of memories as it is packed with stuff.
As I sit here I’m saying goodbye in the way I typically do… quietly, resolutely acknowledging the bittersweetness of it all but forcing myself to find gratitude. Finding gratitude is a practice that continues getting easier with time.
I feel lucky having spent so much time here that I genuinely enjoyed with my family and my friends. My grandmother inhabited this space in a way that informed how I think about place and belonging and community. We are simply stewards of pretty little boxes that we make beautiful, take care of and then fill with people and food. This house is the foundation for fostering human connection. We make the table big enough for everyone.
In this sunrise, on this perfect cloudless day, finding gratitude for my time here is easy. Saying goodbye to this house and the stuff inside it is also easy. It’s easy because I carry the memories of it in my heart and in my action.
If I hadn’t woken up so early and laid in the dark listening to the sounds of a few different birds than chirp outside my windows in Rhode Island, I wouldn’t have made the time to inventory all of the love that happened here. The morning has become where I find truth.