Tilted

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com

I open my eyes this morning still moored to a fading dream, not fully awake, not fully asleep. One of my legs escaped the tangled sheets in the middle of the night and the crisp morning air assaults my bare thigh. Transparent dreams pull at me as the day struggles to take hold and now I am more here than there.

Soon I will release myself to the demands of the day but in my opinion, the only reason the day wins is coffee.

Just thinking about it makes my mouth water for a dark, hot, amber liquid that never tastes like it smells. I can almost feel the bitter, pungent, phenolic flavors roll over my tongue as I breathe in the smoky aroma.

This might be considered an overly enthusiastic response to a mere liquid but I didn’t think so.

A deep breath actuates a series of dry coughs, asthma-related, not COVID. The air quality up at the lake has been hovering in the highly toxic zone for several days, where everyone experiences serious health effects if exposure is prolonged, but the Bay Area is just as bad.

We’re surrounded by raging infernos, an oddly flawless parody of my life, I checked for air masks on Amazon, but they’re out of stock. Figures.

Clearly the force is not strong with me as I try and manifest a cup of coffee with my thoughts. Soon I’ll be compelled to get up and forge for myself. #sacrifices

The bed is still warm were my three year old granddaughter snuggled with me in the wee hours of the morning, playing with my hair, her soft movements familiar against my skin. She left with Nono some time ago and I let myself drift back to sleep.

We dream too big or not at all, we walk a thin line and try our hands at the things we hope can save our lives. Allison Marie Conway.

Minutes later I hear the door open, Audrey climbs up onto my bed, she has the same look, here, but not fully awake.

She says something profound in her soft sleepy voice, “you want to play high lows Grammie?”

The wisdom of these words will eventually hit me, but in the moment I smile and say, “with only a scrap of the day with which to choose I believe my high and low are one and the same.”

She gives me the look (that must be hereditary) and says, “Bunk’d started a new season, you want to watch it with me?”

“Sure,” (this is absolutely the last thing I want to do) and the coffee has yet to evince itself. She finds the remote on the nightstand, and with a click of a button, she weaves through the options until her show appears on the screen.

I would prefer to stay cocooned in the sheets, wrapping myself in the silky quiet, my thoughts weaving in and out of range, tantalizing my senses, rippling across the infinite expanse of my mind as if water. I lean towards the dramatic when I’m neither here nor there.

Instead, I’m listening to an abrasive camp counselor school a child on the etiquette of apologizing when you’re clearly in the wrong. Oh, that is rich.

I want to write. I’m starving for words and I can no longer hold out for coffee. The bed frame is super high, I have to jump off the mattress to reach the floor, I don’t know why but it occurs to me that this will be a struggle when I’m 80.

Grabbing my computer by the chair in the family room, I tuck it under my arm, and head to the kitchen, reaching into the back of the cupboard for my favorite mug, filling it to the brim before returning to the screech of the television, an impossibly high mattress, and my lovely granddaughter.

Opening my MacBook in my lap, I wait for the words to come, but with Bunk’d as my backdrop, my muse remains suspiciously quiet.

Cassandra Clare says we live and breathe words…they made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them. Reading your words, what you wrote, how you were lonely sometimes and afraid, but always brave; the way you saw the world, its colors and textures and sounds, I felt–I felt the way you thought, hoped, felt, dreamt. I felt I was dreaming and thinking and feeling with you.

This is why everyone should write.

I must have started three different storylines on this blank page, deleted all of them, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. The truth can often be stranger than fiction. Brene Brown says we are all imperfect, wired for struggle, but worthy of love and belonging. That might be debatable?

Relationships are all bliss and blisters, we know exactly what buttons are capable of obliterating the emotional landscape, which on occasion we arrogantly push, knowing the fallout is unamendable. Allison Marie Conway says time passes and you arrange yourself into the habits and kinks, making of commitment and attraction as nuanced a cocktail as you can divine.

Feels more like a burr in my shoe but I’ll go with cocktail on principle.

I’m exhausted from weeks of workshops designed to expose my biases, hidden prejudices, and expedite my zoom skills so I’m ready to manage my classes next week. I feel raw, defenseless, vulnerable. My focus is as unstable at our internet.

“Strange, I thought, how you can be living your dreams and your nightmares at the very same time.” Ransom Riggs

Have you ever had the unsettling desire to be somewhere else, to be someone else, or maybe just live in an alternative universe? Someplace not infected with a virus, smoke, and vast discord. Is that asking too much?

The smoke is thick as molasses, my asthma has gone from disconcerting to dire, and I’m suddenly grateful to have left an old inhaler up here years ago. Shaking it fiercely, I spray the mist into my mouth, and attempt to hold my breath. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror I search for evidence of tight muscles relaxing their hold on my belabored airways. If only we had a spray for relaxing irritating people? I even have a name for it. Detoximen, it’s actually a suppository. Perfect.

Holding unanswerable questions is not my forte and I consider if a long walk, a break from blogging, a good book, or a glass of wine will restore me?

I am here but I want to be there.

As Audrey’s potent words return to my mind, “high low Grammie?” I realize I didn’t stop to think a little deeper about the difference between the beginning of a minute and the end, it has the capacity to change everything.

I’m Living in the Gap, I am here, but want to be there.

How are you holding up? Love to commiserate with you in the comments.

Anecdotes:

  • A book is a dream that you hold in your hands. Neil Gaiman
  • You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting. James V. Hart
  • I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality. Frida Kahlo

29 Comments

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    1. It’s interesting how the mind works, I sat there empty and blank, but my fingers seem to keep moving me deeper into the situation, as if on their own? Some people dictate their writing, but I wouldn’t have nearly the depth without the words flowing through my hands. C

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As usual, I enjoyed looking into your mood for the day. I can sympathize with your reaction to our newfound yellow air, you with asthma, me with COPD. As for that high mattress, I am eighty and even a low mattress can become a sky diving adventure. Love you Cheryl, keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gary, oh how I look forward to your comments! I can’t imagine the struggle you are having to breath with this air and COPD! Ugg. Stay inside. I’m overjoyed to report that I made it through my first few zoom classes and they weren’t total disasters so my mood is improving! The air is improving! And we have a long weekend ahead of us. Things are looking up. Love you too Uncle Gary, thanks for your kind words, means more to me then you’ll ever know. Cheryl

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  2. Coffee..ahhhhhh my first delicious smell comes from opening up the can! I can’t resist sticking my nose right up to that aroma!
    I just had some normalcy to this different kind of world Thursday and Friday. I went with my daughter, granddaughter and grandson to celebrate my daughters birthday at a water park and lodge. I thought it was crazy but it was the best I have felt in a long time. I didn’t go in the water and I didn’t take my mask off. I sat and watched my family have a blast and praying they didn’t get exposed. The lodge was very well prepared for social distancing in every way possible but how can they be in the water park where nobody but me wore a mask? There is no way a mask would do any good if it got wet. Anyhow, I felt totally rejuvenated! Now we wait and see if anything happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How fun! I haven’t been to a water park in ages! Glad your family was able to enjoy a normal outing! It must have made everyone feel better. My grandkids really miss play dates with their friends! It’s been hard on our young people. This weekend Larry and I enjoyed wine tasting and a dinner party with our close friends, we haven’t all been together since quarantine started. It felt so normal. We spent most of the day outside but dined in the house due to air quality and the heat. It was marvelous! I’m enjoying a coffee now, just read your Labor Day post! Cheers to blessed coffee! C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank You Lara! What kind words. I am enormously grateful that you found the draft of your book. I always have a backup copy on a flash drive just in case. Good luck with the book I look forward to hearing more about this. All my best, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry to hear about the air quality there and your asthma. I hope it improves soon. Also, I think it is normal to get up for coffee. For me, it is my plants. I wake up and think, I need to get up now to open the curtains so the plants can get sunlight. I think that is fair. And I do wish I am in another place sometimes. I feel lockdown fatigue and some days it gets bad. How about you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Markus and Micah, thank you for stopping by Living in the Gap and taking the time to join me in the comments! Love that you open the curtains for your plants, some of my houseplants are older than my children, so I attend to their needs. I’m exhausted today, just finished teaching my last class online! Zoom is a difficult tool for educating students. Other than the normal quarantine fatigue I’m good. All my best, C

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  4. “I open my eyes this morning still moored to a fading dream, not fully awake, not fully asleep.” Beautifully poetic, blended with narrative and inner dialogue, philosophy and wit (Detoximen, a suppository 😂). Cheryl, you should consider (if you aren’t already) writing a memoir. Look at this thread of readers dying for more…

    Enjoy today’s coffee!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Crystal, thank you so much for your kind and supportive words! I’m so glad my mini rant resonated with you. I have considered publishing a memoir type book, I’m hoping to pull it together by next year! Will require lots of coffee, C

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      1. And in my limited experience of trying to do the same—a clear understanding of what it’s about and a dedicated time to write, re-write, re-write (as much as necessary) and finish. But I always envy your seemingly effortless metaphors. That’s a gift.

        Liked by 1 person

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