#6: Dawn, and What It Used to Mean

Monday / February 10, 2014 / 5 pm / Her sister’s apartment, Orlando, FL

The bane of the houseguest who sleeps on the sofa bed in the living room is the early departure of the host. The former had been awoken earlier than she would have liked by the sounds of a morning routine that she tried her hardest to ignore away. Though she would have preferred to pretend herself back to sleep, assisted by the blanket pulled over her head like an eyelid in its own right, the host woke her up out of the necessity of entrusting her with the keys. And so, the houseguest found herself involuntarily vertical.

In that somnambulant interim, which could not have lasted longer than thirty seconds, she had managed to make her way over to the glass door leading to the balcony. She parted the blinds with her fingers, offhandedly, to look at the sky – as if she could not return to her slumber without at first situating herself in time and space.

Within a brief moment those same fingers had retreated. Through the slats she had seen a sliver of the sky, the silhouettes of roofs nesting in a yellow-orange luminescence that was gradually intruding upon a deep blue embrace. For that brief moment, she felt the sudden influx of emotion that departed as quickly as it arrived; it had brought her back to a time, in another part of the world, when she would have to be wake up before sunrise just to get to school on time. She would have been walking to her classroom under a sky very similar to this, before the sun had fully shed its benign crimson chroma and unleashed its dreaded heat. It wasn’t any specific memory, but a sensation, a wistfulness, a combination of anticipation and dread, the I’m-so-excited-to-see-him-again and the I-hope-he-doesn’t-act-like-an-asshole-today, and perhaps a dash of I-miss-the-times-when-I-felt-so-many-emotions-for-one-person-even-in-his-absence (especially in his absence).

She was too tired for nostalgia, and rolled back into the sofa bed. Just before drifting off to sleep, she instructed herself to file away this moment for later use, though she vaguely recalled that this mental filing system of hers was not so dependable as to avoid the disappointment of forgetting. Hours later, long after she had finally woken up, the moment propitiously resurfaced. Endeavoring to capture it in words, she inevitably welcomed it into a keenly romanticised mythos that encompassed not only the events of years past, but also the remembrance itself.

It was strange how a specific alignment of sky, light, air, temperature, scent could tear open this tiny yet intense laceration in a part of her that she falsely believed she had neatly packed away. Though this had become a pattern – a meteorological recall so attuned to the tropical, dew-filled, half-lit dawn and the tropical, gold-tinged late afternoon – she was nonetheless startled by each anamnesis. Always, always he would emerge in her mind, because she had spent every possible time of day with him, and then this seemed a stupid explanation because it not only sounded more suggestive than it really was, but it also didn’t account for why the periods of dawn and late afternoon were the most replete with reminiscence.

The indistinct realisation that she had written about all this before, that she was still writing about the same things, stemmed her indulgent melancholia. It was the vulnerability and susceptibility of a body not yet fully awakened, which made her weak enough to reopen wounds. What surprised her more – that she no longer loved the “him” that he was now, or that she still, after all these years, thought of the “him” that he was then? Perhaps there was no point in speaking of surprise, for this was the miasma that she had been floating in and out of for six years. It – the miasma and its cause – had long been the barometer for all authenticity of feeling, such that she couldn’t look at a morning sky for what it is, but only for what it used to mean.

Berny Tan