Morning Ritual

First off, I am awoken by the sound of the idiot downstairs. (I hear he was an old army general) (the way he acts and yells I'm surprised that he got beyond a private)(and he is not private, he's always talking loudly and giving orders to anyone around)(he seems to be self centered)(what he does, everyone should know about!) He wakes me by opening the rolling shades so prevalent in this country. He starts in his bedroom directly below mine. The entire wall reverberates. Then he goes into the bathroom, opens the shade and then invites the world to hear him drain his liter or so of urine. He pees directly in the center of the bowl and makes the loudest sound possible. Then he works his way around the rest of the apartment opening the rest of the shades. If he misses one I am aware of it and fell like yelling "hey idiot, you forgot one'. If I am still tired, I go back to sleep for another 45 minutes or so. Then I get up, usually between 7 and 8, this morning it was 7:38, eight hours after I went to sleep.

This is new for me. I used to sleep six to seven hours a night. Now, my schedule is more open so I can do what I want. I wonder how it will be when I get back home and have to be on a 'schedule' again?

So I wake up. Usually when I awake I am lying there and realize that I am conscious. (How else could it happen?)(well, it could be that I realize that I am no longer unconscious).

Usually, the first thing I realize that I am so far away from Michele, and that makes me a little sad, and feel a little guilty. But then I realize that there is only a few months remaining(!) until we are together again.

Then I look at the window. What kind of day is it?

I sit up.

I get out of bed and go to look out the window (another sunny day?)(Yes!) I turn on the computer and put on some clothes, usually my sweat pants and a tee shirt and make my way to the bathroom. I urinate (on the side of the bowl) wash my teeth and brush my face (remember I'm still waking up).

I make my way to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. A cup of expresso and warm milk. It is usually half cof/half milk (latte fresca). The milk is heated up because if I do not it will cool down the coffee and will be blaah. (The morning coffee ritual had become very important to me. Michele and I have a great little ritual we do by sitting in the living room, in our preferred seats, starting out the day enjoying a relaxing 20 or so minutes at the start of each day with each other.) Here, I set out my cup. The same white one with slanted ribs on the sides. I put in two small spoons of sugar and let it wait until the coffee is done.

If it is just before 8, Frenchy (my house mate) is sitting at the table with his coffee and dunking his chocolate something or other. I say boun giorno. He usually grunts. He is tired and very nonverbal in the morning. While my coffee is cooking I'm making the bed.

The coffee is ready, I hear it bubbling in the kitchen. I walk in. Turn off the burners. The burners are old. I light them with a match. Sometimes when I turn them off they go 'pop' (I like that sound). I Pour in the warm milk then add the coffee (it tastes better in that order). Stir. Put the milk warming stainless steel cup under water and put in the spoon. The expresso maker (one of those aluminum ones that are supposed to be bad for you) is put on the edge of the sink. It is too hot to clean now. Sometimes when I put it on the edge of the sink and there is water under it, it begins to sizzle (I like that sound also). I grab my coffee and go to the computer. Sitting at the computer I decide what to write: email to Michele? More entries for my Journal Notes? On a good morning, usually both.

So here I am. I write this with such detail because soon this will be over, just a memory, a dream from a different life. I will be gone from this country. Back home. Getting back in the ritual of that life. Many years from now I will read this and look at the pictures and be able to pop right back here to 1998. This will be the door I can look through to this dream. From these written prompts I can move around and remember the sights and smells and emotions and recall more.

I'm still tired. I'm having trouble waking up. I don't know where to start today with writing. I think I'll go and take a shower. Many times I get inspiration from getting wet. I wonder why that is? Perhaps it is because my body gets attention. It takes me away from my head and gives my internal computer a rest for a few more moments and gives my outside self a massage. A nice way to start a day.

Well, it worked...

What do animals dream about? Do they daydream? What do animals remember? Humans are the first creatures (that we know of) to store information outside of their heads. I often wonder if we really need that ability. I also wonder if we need the ability of memory. It makes things familiar. Familiarity can breed boredom. If you are away from the familiar for a long time you have dreams of returning to that familiarity. It makes me think of Alan Lightman's book 'EINSTEIN'S DREAMS' (Warner Books, 1993). In it he writes about the dreams Einstein has thirty nights before he writes his famous law of relativity. In one of the dreams he writes about having no memory. Each day you consult your book, your diary, to know what job you have. Everything is unfamiliar, and new and fresh. Lightman writes:

"...A world without memory is a world of the present. The past exists only in books, in documents. In order to know himself, each person carries his own Book of Life, which is filled with the history of his life. By reading its pages daily, he can relearn the identity of his parents, whether he was born high or born low, whether he did well or did poorly in school, whether he has accomplished anything in his life. Without his Book of Life, a person is a snapshot, a two-dimensional image, a ghost...

"...The stockbroker, whose short-term memory of the market has produced some excellent investments, reads that he now lives at no. 89 Bundesgasse. Arriving home, each man finds a woman and children waiting at the door, introduces himself, helps with the evening meal, reads stories to his children. Likewise, each woman returning from her job meets a husband, children, sofas, lamps, wallpaper, china patterns. Late at night, the wife and husband do not linger at the table to discuss the day's activities, their children's school, the bank account. Instead, they smile at one another, feel the warming blood, the ache between the legs as when they met the first time fifteen years ago. They find their bedroom, stumble past family photographs they do not recognize, and pass the night in lust. For it is only habit and memory that dulls the physical passion. Without memory, each night is the first night, each morning is the first morning, each kiss and touch are the first."

So well written! For me this helps me to keep a fresh perspective on what is familiar, and more importantly, keeping life fresh and exciting.