Posted by: alegra22 | February 10, 2009

Midnight Marauding

I have been more tired here in California, minus my children, than I am at home when going full-throttle motherhood speed. I don’t know if it is the sudden change from New Zealand summer sunlight and heat that lasts until nearly 9 at night to  the cool temps of California winter and light that disappears around 6, or, if it is this chronic chest thing that snuggled into my lungs despite a dose of Chuck Norris strength antibiotics.

I don’t know if it is the low-grade anxiety I have about what I am or am not getting done and if this is amplified by the surround-sound, continuous stream of information about the collapsing economy. I don’t know if it is watching my parents come to terms quietly, sometimes laughingly, about her cancer. I don’t know if it is the long wait for the doctors to retrieve her bloodtests so that we can find out if she has lymphoma.

Sometimes I focus this unsettled feeling in my bones on the final countdown for a contest announcement which, in my heart of hearts, I am already mourning my failure to place in.

I don’t know, I keep saying. Even though I do know. It hits me in the strangest moments. I have to leave a store when my father tries on a new hat, because there is something in his smile, in the way  he parades around for my mother, that breaks my heart.

This morning, like most mornings of the past week, I am up drinking more coffee than I previously drank back in New Zealand, and trying to orientate myself around the day. I have to talk my feet through the next step: go exercise. Good girl. Now go write, or try to write. Good. Now what?? My fatigue this morning is double strength. For some reason I find most of my inspiration arriving at night, as if somewhere in my mind I find relief that the actual day is over. At night, all anxieties are somehow suspended and I am left free to create.

It wasn’t until last night that I was energized enough to make use of this time to write more than a few sprawling lines in the dark. I managed to complete a second chapter and I was tired, ready to sleep. Outside the door I heard the sounds of my mother moving through the house as she has been doing since her own mother died in June. She has been unable to sleep, wanting to harness these lawless hours and ride them somewhere over the rainbow.

I closed my laptop, pushed away the blankets, pulled on my father’s Cornell zip-up hoodie and his woollen socks, and I followed my mother out into her studio. I sat in the doorway, my knees tucked into the sweatshirt. She sat in the rocking chair she once used to rock me as a baby. She wore a beautiful silk robe, a work of art, draped on her thin arms and frame. She has always been that way, the Midas touch of creativity, her clothing, the dishes she chooses to eat on, everything around her blossoms into a creative act.

As I sat listening to her, I understood her in a way that I haven’t before, the ways in which we are alike, the desires she has to fulfill before she dies. Who she might have been if she had been born into a different set of circumstances, if she didn’t have to fight depression every inch of the way. We spoke with the type of honesty that comes from realizing time is running out, that our use of time has always been based on a distorted understanding of what it means to live and relate. We spoke until both of our eyes were beginning to close involuntarily and our words slurred.

Now, this morning, it is another day. Outside sunlight falls down through the live oaks and pines, the birds and squirrels converse in that distant way I always associate with Cambria. It reminds me of waking up on a camping trip as a child, the way the woods surround me here.

But this  morning I don’t have that security I once had as a child waking up in the woods to the smell of my father’s coffee. The security that time belonged to me and me alone and it was an abundant resource I could spend freely.

I tell Dan on the instant message that I love him.

We write:

I miss you

I miss you too.

And then, once again, the day begins.



  1. I see a strong connection between you, coffee, sleep and night time! One of these is the life blood of how you operate and work (write) another assists you with the things you need to do and the other one is really just a natural stimulus. I’m not sure which is which, but I know by now you have easily figured out which label fits best for each one! (You is the sum of the other 3!!)

    Since I’m doing a ‘retrospective’ analysis of your blog it’s difficult to not already have a bias on what you have written. I already know the future! The face that your mother is still alive and kicking (literally) So your worries in this situation are unfounded 🙂 BUT non the less warranted! Your connection with you mother and your father are strong. I can see that clearly from what you have said here. Your connection is shown to us through the ‘costumes’ they adorn themselves with. You create characters from the people around you and they help create you as a character too. It’s just a self-perpetutating circle of life really! Love your colorful writing.

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