A Change of Scenery

According to his sleep-tracking-app, he usually wakes up around 6:30 AM. That hadn’t been his normal for several weeks now.

Today was even more atypical.

He had been awoken by his puppy, Paddington, barking. Also not typical. After telling his puppy to shhh, he lies in bed, staring at the ceiling — 5:32 AM. He closes his eyes, focuses on his breath, his visual field (that shimmering darkness behind his eyes), and waits. He waits for sleep to welcome him back into the land of dreams. Instead, the first notes of a new day entered the bedroom; the humming and percussion of freeway travel and the sweet melody of birds.

He knew that he would not fall back asleep, accepts his fate, and climbs out of bed —5:58 AM.

He would turn on the kettle and make a cup of herbal tea. He imagines halfway around the world, Helen Pluckrose might be enjoying a cup of tea as well. Of course, hers would not be herbal tea. No, it was black tea – strong – with milk. He imagines her chiding him for drinking herbal tea at this hour. Then he slips back into reality, where Helen doesn’t know he exists.

By 7:00 AM, he would heat the oven to 500 degrees, put in his cast-iron pan, and let it get screaming hot. Once he heard his pan screaming, as Joshua Weissman instructed, jokingly, he would remove his sourdough from its cold slumber in the fridge and prepare it for baking. Into the oven, it goes. The dough would bake for twenty-minutes with steam. After that, he would decrease the oven temperature to 450 degrees and cook the bread for twenty-five to thirty minutes. After removing the first loaf from the oven, he would increase the oven temperature again to 500 degrees, wait fifteen minutes, and repeat the process with the second loaf.

By this time, he would be preparing the levain to make the two sourdough loaves that would be eaten at the Mother’s Day dinner tomorrow.

Shortly after the first sourdough preparations, he would leave the house to help his dad. With what? He didn’t know. His dad is a capable and smart man, which indicates the help asked for would be a form of manual labor, probably helping lift/move heavy objects. He was looking forward to spending time with his dad.

Assuming helping his dad would take less than three and a half hours, he would return to the apartment just in time to finish the preparation of the sourdough loaves, a process that wouldn’t terminate until 8:00 PM that night.

He reflects on last night’s events. He looks around at the apartment and notes it is cleaner. He thinks of the cost of being this state of clean. He thinks of the words said, those unsaid, and the reality they both had created. He thinks of which words, which conversations, which incantations, might occur today. He feels the tightness in his chest that comes with those imagined exchanges, and embraces the uncomfortable feeling; it is better than feeling numb.

He looks at the clock and notes how much easier it was to write this morning, in relative silence, than amid last night’s turmoil and confusion. He marks that the most considerable difference is in volume from his inner world than the outer world.

In this morning air, he could type the thoughts coming in without fear of regret. In this morning air, thirty minutes of writing has been a solace, a friend, a pleasant change of scenery.

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