Mostly it's the winter mornings I remember from my childhood. Those when my mind was born from sleep in the still-darkness, and the sun not even a suggestion on the horizon. The smell of February frost and smoke from my dad's Marlboro Reds would seep in to that fuzzy half-sleep that flitters on the edge on consciousness, picking me up and carrying me over the threshold. I remember the distant sound of cartoons in the living room and my sister's bed, empty, next to mine; and the gaze of a charcoal-sketched fox watching me from across the room as I'd slip out of bed and hurry barefoot toward the lit hallway. Away from the dark and from the fox's eyes...
I remember the slightly rough texture of the berber carpet on my bare feet and the smoothness of the banister in my hand and how if you positioned your feet just right on the edge of the steps and leaned a certain way you could remain upright but still slip-slide down the stairs. I remember the swooshing-thump noise of every step and how it would build to a crescendo by the time I reached the bottom.
Downstairs the smell of cigarette smoke would be stronger and interwoven with that of burn toast and coffee. Both black. But children don't drink coffee... I don't remember ever sitting down and eating breakfast but in my mind I can still recognize the granular crunch of the sugar that would silt-up the milk at the bottom of a bowl of Rice Krispies. I miss putting sugar on cereal with the heavy hand of a child...
Nowadays, depending on how I fumbled the alarm switch the night before, I wake to the sound of intermittent radio static or that tinny beeping that pierces your brain right behind your eye. The charcoal fox and my sister no longer share the room and apart from me, the house is empty. Quiet except for the pops and groans of the timbers as they expand and contract. I crack my knuckles in reply.
I read something once that explained how sunlight affected the body's circadian rhythm and how in the winter, owing to the short daylight hours, you should turn on lights to wake yourself up.
The winter mornings are so dark here, but I still hear my mother's voice in the back of my head admonishing me to save electricity as I drag myself from underneath layers of down, forego the light switch and feel my way around furniture, down the stairs (now trodden carefully) and to the kitchen.
I make oatmeal on the stove, not in the microwave. With milk, not water. A dash of salt like my grandmother taught me. I miss the smell of burn toast and coffee. And the smoke. The way it smelled... cozy. But I've learned to adapt. I sit at an empty island and imagine intricate patterns in the frost that laces the glass of the French doors. And though a thousand February mornings have passed between then and now, I can't smell the February frost and not imagine I catch the scent of smoke from Marlboro Reds.
Created: Nov 02, 2017Document Media