Upon waking a cold dryness at the back of the throat, a small spasm on one side of the neck. One leg is too hot and shoulders are freezing. That leg goes overtop of the covers to regulate, but that requires resting on the side of the neck with spasm. The imperative otherwise is to remain small and silent in a warm humid dark corner.
But Sunday morning always lives up to its name, especially in February. The light petulantly punches through window glass bringing not heat but only a bitchy reproach like someone yelling at you on the street, like jumping in the pool. The winter sun stretches the air, makes it taut as every molecule of water shimmers and then drops out, down from the earth into the lapis blue of the sky with no cloud separating atmosphere from outer space. The last trace of the morning moon hovers in the near-black blue and you remember its distance: you can go there, out there.
First, a flicker of ancient fear, the weight of glaciers grinding down across ribs. Following the advice of the emperor from Mulan, you became a mountain, but even mountains succumb to inexorable ice. In the middle of some strange gasping, nostril whispering breaths the first full sentence of the morning spins out of a chest gulch: “He doesn’t love me. Actually, he doesn’t think of me at all.” Then, a gradual pace back through last night—”Oh shit, what did I say to them?”—and other similar nights. Nothing changes and no progress is made. You are of the same worth as you always were: some mornings, the sun itself; others, Sundays mostly, a mote of dust caught spinning ceaselessly in front of the air vent in some bathroom.
It’s a strange trap—to wake up with a view of the universe but to be so bewildered by it. Loud, loud, it’s all loud from the sirens to the footsteps, the neighbors welcoming friends over for brunch, the shitty dog across the street. And the president is going to commit sexual warfare against our national parks, and there are no jobs and the ones that exist are designed to force you to disappoint repeatedly. The police could kill you, New York cabs could kill you, a finance bro could kill you, a falling tree branch could kill you.
A friend comes downstairs and you are thankful that the mind is no longer stuck in endless insides but also you are guilty of presenting this wonderful being with a dessicated self. No fun! It’s so selfish to be no fun. Thankfully the act of getting dressed and showered is beyond a question of fun.
Downstairs and ready, no longer smelling like onions or whatever, but it’s still Sunday. The time for the great debate begins: what combination of salt and fat will stop your evaporation? Are you upset or just hungry? But somehow you know that no combination of life basics will do it, not felafel nor huevos rancheros, not corned beef hash nor pancakes. The debate flips back and forth between options that seem for a moment to possess some innate light, an open door but disappear into sludge when reached for. Mmmmmm how about somewhere with no wait? At least the void won’t grow.
Walking out into February is terrible. It’s so cold you can’t summon cheerful conversation for the friend; it’s impolite to be no fun, you remember. A dog walker stretches the leash across the breadth of the sidewalk somehow letting through a couple who runs together who then force you into the mulch or onto a stoop or into the street. Sometimes crushing cabbages that nudge exhausted above the shit snow crusted into mountains.
Eight strollers converge on a streetcorner. Three of the babies are cute, the others yell. The strollers block everybody forever, the loss of physical momentum causing the mind to continue forward into no airbag at all: I won’t be allowed to have children, I won’t be allowed to be in a couple, all couples have been formed already.
We arrive to brunch; the wait is “about 40 minutes?” There is no room in the restaurant; there is no room in the vestibule. There is no room in the pre-vestibule temporary winter door thingie. Everyone thinks you are cutting the line because your body is now in space. You know that everyone thinks you are cutting in line. You resent the restaurant for not setting up a TSA-style line apparatus to make these things clear. You resent your body. You resent brunch for making you want to expand the role of the TSA when the entire thing should be abolished (death comes for everyone but life should not be wasted on 3-ounce containers).
You leave the restaurant thank god with some kind of feeling. “We have nothing to lose but our chains!” you think, about brunch. You try to find some other kind of brunch, you and the friend, thank god for the friend. You find the brunch and they seat you thank god.
Baby boomers assault the waitress with dry lips and a coupon for somewhere else. The water jug waits on the counter next to about eight people writing screenplays. They live in this neighborhood and they don’t need jobs. Somehow you expected this leisure crowd to look different, to carry some aura. But no, they have dry lips and coupons and screenplays and four strollers each.
You and the friend stay quiet and allow the waitress to send her bad day your way. You both can take it; it fits your assumptions of how a stranger would treat you. There are people who are attractive; they get menus and drinks and food first but you sense this is actually because the waitress wants them out of there—the Sufis always said if your prayers don’t come true it’s because god likes to hear your voice.
You don’t know what to pray for besides food. There is no grand plan for the day, no goal, nothing to look forward to other than the next step: to consume the burnt egg. Three bites in and you start searching for the next step forward in the day. Nothing appeals, the friend is quiet. If it weren’t Sunday you could shine the sun on her but it is Sunday and hair blows across the street wrapping itself around bottles and bags. If the sun would set; if it were warmer; if you knew where to go or what to do with yourself; if you grew up without the knowledge that annihilation hides around every corner… if any of these things were true, maybe brunch wouldn’t be so deadly.