It was always some horrible song from the late 80’s that dragged her from her dreams and delivered her to the dawn of another forgettable day. Snoozing the alarm one more time and then one more time and then one more time only gave her time to reassess how she had forgotten to set the programmable coffee pot, for 5 years. She often wondered if extra sleep would help but she was unwilling to give up the night. She could almost hear her eyelashes trying to open which were stuck together with layers of mascara she was too lazy to wash off at night. Which led her to the first guilty thought of the day that she should be using all of those face creams stacked in the bathroom but what good were they if she didn’t wash her face first. And why wear the cute pajamas neatly stacked in the dresser if she could just slip off her bra at 2 a.m. extracting it out of the armhole of the shirt she had worn all day, her dreams didn’t care what she wore.
She always pulled it together, washing her face, reapplying the mascara, a clean pajama shirt for the day. Leaving the bathroom faucet on for the cat to drink out of she walked down the hall, dog barking to eat and the sound of kids stirring in their beds. Thankfully years of routine had made them creatures of habit and they were able to make their beds and get dressed without much prompting. She wondered at what age they would start to realize she didn’t quite have it all together, hopefully never. All basic needs were met. Love was given. Love was received. Memories were made. No one was going hungry. Clothes were clean.
They would never know that most days when she pulled away from the curb and watched them enter the school she was filled with an overwhelming feeling of doubt. She feared that her round children were forced into square boxes for hours a day and would eventually accept a different shape and be unable to escape. She feared they would spend years trying to remember what it was like to be round. She feared they would accept being a drone instead of the people they were meant to be. She feared no other parents feared the same things.
There was a time when routine was her salvation but the loads of laundry that bled into the loads of dishes to the 21 meals a week to the dr. appointments and the vet appointments and another 12 loads of laundry and the maintenance of life had become a war. Did it really matter? No one was keeping score. Would anyone notice if they only had 2 pairs of clean socks in reserve instead of 6? What if she went to the grocery store every day at 5 p.m. to figure out what was for supper instead of having 7 meals planned ahead? Did the world stop spinning if beds weren’t made?
Her life, no longer a cruise ship, but a life raft, adrift. Even if there was a search party, she would have to organize it, honestly she liked the drifting. She especially loved the hours late at night when she would lay in her raft, looking at the night sky, the deafening silence surrounding her and original thoughts racing through her soul.
She often imagined the Sand Man appearing in a uniform instructing her to take a life sobriety test and to pass she must walk the “time line.” Would all of the time she spent trying to stop the clock, to be still, to live, to breathe, would these things work in her favor? Would he take points off for the moments she missed? Would he give extra for the nightmares she turned into dreams?
She liked to think that tonight she would try to wash her face before bed. Wear the cute pajamas with the little flowers. Use the face cream and even floss. But she knew a bra would be flung out of an armhole of a black tshirt, she would collapse in a heap next to her dog and her husband, she would listen to her kids breathing in rooms nearby and should would smile, knowing in a few short hours some horrible 80’s song would bring her back to life and her line of time would thankfully continue for another day.