I am a creature of habit, although the word “creature” implies a certain wildness or a snarling wantonness of the spirit which really doesn’t capture the essence of who I am. I’m really more of “blobby find an osmotic balance with my environment” sort of guy; like an amoeba.
OK then, I am an amoeba of habit which is why at 5:45 am every morning the alarm on my cell phone goes off across the room and I struggle to roll out of the deeply formed impression in the mattress that just happens to be the exact shape of my body at rest; a free falling skydiver achieving the terminal velocity of sleep, the ripcord malfunctions nightly and I plummet towards consciousness but not before I deeply embed myself into the mattress’s surface. The phone tweets its digital song from its perch on Kathleen’s dresser for only a few seconds before I reach it and strangle it until it is silent. As I leave the room the harness of my failed chute is usually twisted into the down comforter and I’m yanked back under the blankets and tethered to the crash site until the younger twin of the alarm I killed avenges the death of his brother 5 minutes later.
The hallway is lit only by the red glowing disembodied trophy head of Spiderman on Jack’s dresser as I stumble barefoot from the bedroom. Jack is typically sprawled on top of the covers and awash in the diffused crimson, it always looks like he passed out in Kenny Rogers chicken rotisserie. Adam snoozes behind a closed door but I can hear the espresso machine of his white noise maker and the jittery seagulls clamoring for the barista to leave room for cream. My toes curl over the edge of the top step and I limp like a crossing guard with a bad hip down the stairs to the first floor.
The cat’s been out all night and is yowling on the porch to get in like Corey Feldman outside a trendy Hollywood nightclub so I let him in and he waddles into the basement; much like Corey Feldman after he fails to get into a trendy Hollywood nightclub. After grabbing a Lightning McQueen fleece from the couch and wrapping it around my shoulders I pour myself a cup of coffee and slope back into the living room; a 36 year old man in a pair of saggy boxer briefs creped in a child’s blanket drinking coffee from a chipped “Real Dads Hug Their Kids!” mug. Hunched on the edge of the couch I turn on SportsCenter with the volume muted until the caffeine increases my heart rate to a level that puts me in the “not clinically dead” category.
By 6:20 I’m in the car with my second cup of paternally pious Maxwell House motoring to the gym to workout. On some level I believe I can slow down the aging process by training every morning; that somehow lugging 45 lb. metal plates around a hollowed-out renovated Rite-Aid Pharmacy will stave off my receding hairline, softening mid-section, my thickening eyebrows that go all the way to my feet. With my hat pulled down low on my eyes and my iPod shuffling through the same 256 songs that have been on it for the last 4 months because I’m too indifferent to add new music I trundle from station to station among the other wandering members of my surrogate tribe: Run on the Elliptical Machine like a Rabid Wolverine Chasing an Injured Chipmunk Guy, Wear a Tank Top So Baggy Everyone Can See My Nipples Guy, Walk Around Pretending To Work Out But I Really Just Want to Talk to People Girl, I Leave Puddles of Sweat on Everything I Touch Guy…they’re all there. Every morning they’re there and by 7:30 I’m back in the car and heading home to my actual less rabid, less nipply, less sweaty but equally as chatty tribe.
Everyone’s usually up when I walk in the door, Kathleen’s feeding Adam pieces of apple and Jack’s drinking his Pediasure and coffee concoction he’s had every morning since he was two. After hugging my kids because the coffee cup told me to, I retreat back upstairs where the daily ritual of the amoeba began to shower and get ready for work.
Earlier this week I replicated this ritual as I do every morning, went back upstairs to shower as I do every morning, stripped naked in the front walk-in closet/computer room as I do every morning and walked in to the hallway towards the bathroom; Unlike every morning though Jack was standing there with a scrambled egg and English muffin sandwich on a side plate waiting for me. “Mommy made this for you Daddy and I wanted to bring it up to you.”
I thanked him and took the plate from him then stood there awkwardly for a second in silence with him. Nudity has never been an issue or a reason for embarrassment for us with Jack. He still showers with us from time to time and he regularly walks in on me while I’m getting dressed, but at that moment for some reason I felt very self-conscious. I thought he was going to head back downstairs, but he started telling me about a dream that he had instead. As he recounted a dream in which Spiderman died and he brought him back to life by laying a construction paper heart on him I lowered the breakfast sandwich in front of my crotch and backed up against the door to the attic.
After a second I noticed that he was so enthralled with relating his dream to me that wasn’t really even looking at me. And then it occurred to me that he doesn’t give a shit what I look like, if I work-out or if I’m shaped like an amoeba, if I have a little less hair and little more waistline, if my eyebrows go all the way to my feet, I’m just his Dad. That’s it. So I lifted the plate from in front of my groin and took a bite of the sandwich as he kept talking about the dream.
NaBloPoMo has been like that for me. The first few posts this month I was preoccupied with how I appeared to everyone, new readers and new friends, and I concealed my imperfections, blemishes, and literary love handles with plates and scrambled egg sandwiches. But here we are on Day 30 and there’s nothing left to hide. No one seems to give a shit what I look like or who I pretend to be. You’ve seen me naked, so to speak, with all my imperfections, limitations and failings and I’m content to eat homemade Egg McMuffins while you gawk, point and laugh, or just put on a baggy tank top that shows your nipples and tell me about your dreams.
Whatever you choose to do I want you to know this has been a great month, but for now I’ll be turning off my cell phone and finding a blobby osmotic balance with my pillow and mattress.