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Baby awake at 4:32, then back down. I’m up. Anything after 3:30 or so seems enough like morning that I usually rise, even though so often, I wish my eyes would close again. The time, I figure, is a gift: I can make a latte, water my favorite pathos, watch the Christmas tree lights blink and blink again. I’ll write, I think to myself. I’ll be productive.

Into the kitchen. I drink water, eat a hard-boiled egg, start the espresso. Take a vitamin. Reach my hands over my head and bend at my waist, dangling towards the floor for a moment. It’s been so long since I did yoga. My body could use it. 

I reach for my computer, check my work email. I wasn’t there yesterday; I missed a lot. It’s barely 5:00 and I’m already discouraged, thinking of how my professional identity has changed since Covid, since motherhood. I feel at loose ends. I love my work, but other things are so different from how they used to be.

Back in the kitchen. It’s the holidays, so I use a mug I only pull out in December. Peace, it says, in big letters, golden against a red background. There are snowflake-like bursts of metallic color all over it, and I love it, and still I’ll put it away in January, though peace is surely a year-round goal. 

I have a whole wall of mugs; I rotate them in and out. More than I need; most of them come from thrift stores, or friends. A good one feels like a treasure, and is an indulgence I can easily allow. 

My computer waits for my hands. I want to write. I do write. I have 11 open documents that I’m working on; fiction, and non. But I’m so distracted, thinking of my job, thinking of Christmas. A book I wanted to buy is out of stock at the store in town; I wonder if I have enough for my parents; I’m not even sure if I have anything for the baby, who will never know that, but I will. I don’t want to give into consumerism. It’s hard to resist. 

Minutes pass. It feels more and more that I am on borrowed time; dawn will be here soon. I start to write. 10 feet away, out of nowhere and rather nonchalantly, my dog throws up. He looks at it, vaguely interested in what just happened. Stays there as I clean it up, watching me. I pet him, reassure him. You ok, buddy, I ask. His fur is so soft. 

Quiet in my house. So quiet.

I think this will be my last holiday here. It’s been a good place to live, a house that’s watched so much of my life unfold, but it’s grown smaller as my child has grown bigger. It may not fit us in a year. I wish I could buy a house, but it’s too expensive, and anyway maybe I want to move. I’m not sure. I’ve said that since I got here, more than seven years ago. I like living in California, I don’t like living in California. I read that we’re becoming a sanctuary state, should Roe be overturned. I support that, want to live in a place I believe in, still wish my family was closer. 

I’d like to be in charge of replacing carpet, when I need to. I’m sure I’ll regret saying that, when I actually have to. 

There is an orchid in my view, sitting behind a sonogram picture that says love at first sight on the frame. Yes, I loved that baby at first sight, at first knowledge, in such a powerful, all-encompassing, incredible way. It’s only gotten bigger, that feeling, but I have no idea how the orchid has survived these months. I forget about it, don’t even see it. It was a gift, as were the glass poppies on the tree, as was the little wooden block on my desk, the one that says write a book. I should. I have. I hope to.  

The heat turns on. I stand on one leg, in front of my raised computer, typing out these words, wondering why, knowing it’s because I need to see my life in words to understand it best. 

The Christmas tree lights blink, and blink again. It is enough, to get started. 

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