Though I may like the order of things, I will be the first one to revel in rumpling the sheets, rolling over, and sleeping through the morning. It’s that time of the school year when I’m reminded that my elementary start times of 8:00 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. are luxurious. I’m assigned to support online SOL testing on the high school level. Since the high school testing begins at 7:30 a.m., I show up usually by 6:30 but this year due to a few changes, I’m there just after 6:00 a.m. My world is misaligned when my little CRV is the second car in the lot.
I’ve done this pre-crack-o-dawn-school-testing-thing for the past four years or so. I’ll never get used to it. It’s always a rude cruel shock to my body, and the older I get, I can’t imagine it getting easier. I’m sorry but the room is black, three cat puddles are nestled about me, and the warmth of Lana’s back teasing me to stay. The alarm will buzz and I wriggle myself free of the cat puddles only to have at least two of them follow me to the bathroom, usually Erik and Simone. Sarton usually hangs back until she knows breakfast is really served and this is not a drill.
As soon as I hit the floor and become vertical, I recognize my father’s morning shuffle. The one he had later in life, when upon rising he scuffled through the house to the bathroom. His legs were stiff and his feet flat. In the early dawn silence, I could hear his pajama bottoms drag along the rug. The first time I noticed it, I was taken aback. More than any other event or pain, seeing and feeling the tin soldier walk of my father marked age: agedness in a way nothing else had. I remember how old he looked when his gait had changed.
I only have my father’s walk in the early dawn, especially when my slumber schedule is abruptly curtailed. When the order of my day is rearranged and the early to rise is not early to shine. The yellow bus line is not really bright and smiley.