There’s something about waking before morning does. Not the process of it – the alarm’s incessant beeping, staggering to the bathroom in the dark, the sting of contact lenses biting raw eyes. Yawning despite the coffee as you move around with lead feet.
You creep from dread to a sleepy anticipation slowly, like water warming. You see the car pull up outside, tires crunching frozen snow, leaving ripples in puddles. You hurry down the slushy driveway with selective steps, sucking in the hollow-wet Vancouver air, but then you’re curled into the front seat with another half-asleep human. He drives. You watch the sky start its slow glow in the distance, lazy window wipers erasing the last few falling snowflakes.
Conversation is sincere and soft, interrupted only by stretches where a long-forgotten song plays and you lose each other briefly, each settling into the memories the lyrics deliver from your own past chapters. Without the noise of others, you can hear yourself more clearly. You watch the city go by, empty sidewalks lined by empty shops, the world still slowly inhaling, exhaling, heavy with sleep. There is silence, cloaked in snow, but it won’t be long. Soon there will be percolating coffee and umbrellas shaken outside cafés and the tick-tock of the clock.
Not yet, though. For now, there is you, there is a friend who requires few words, and there is an adventure you drive down the highway towards. You’ve beaten the sun again, and you watch it rise as you round the corner to the peak of the mountain, a smile playing on your lips. The sun’s slow burn will outlive you tonight, bowing into the ocean at ten, when you will lie exhausted and warm under a thick duvet from your adventures. But tomorrow you will play this game again, and somehow fall in love with waking before the rest. These mornings belong just to you, on a mountain, bathed in hazy orange half-light.
(Photo by Eric Moller)