Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Before the break of day

It is 6:40 in the morning. Why am I awake now, you ask, when my first class of the day is at 10:30? For the past two nights I have hardly gotten any sleep at all due to a very annoying cough, which last night turned into a full blown cold. I got into bed at around midnight, read some Virginia Woolf until around 12:30, and then tried to go to sleep. I say tried because, well, I did sleep from the hours of 1 to 3. That was about it. I was up the rest of the night coughing and headachy and blowing my nose and generally feeling miserable. And yes, I did take advil for my headache - no, it did not help as nicely as I would have liked it to. Today my number one project is to buy cough medicine, preferably Nyquil so I can actually sleep at night.

But why am I writing this post.

For the first time in a very long time, I am awake in that odd time of day when it is technically morning but the sun has not yet risen. I am fully washed and dressed and ready for the day and I have my window shade open. Outside, it is dark, but it is interesting to watch the apartment building outside my window (at least, I think it's an apartment building) and see how many other people are awake now. How many windows have light seeping through. Most of the windows have a dim light - people could be awake or it could have been that way all night long. Who knows? But it is a strange feeling being the only one awake on my floor. I always wonder, when I am up at strange hours, who else is awake? Who else shares my sleeplessness?

Virginia Woolf has a gorgeous passage about night settling in from her book To the Lighthouse which I would like to share with you.

So with the lamps all put out, the moon sunk, and a thin rain drumming on the roof a downpouring of immense darkness began. Nothing, it seemed, could survive the flood, the profusion of darkness which, creeping in at keyholes and crevices, stole round window blinds, came into bedrooms, swallowed up here a jug and basin, there a bowl of red and yellow dahlias, there the sharp edges and firm bulk of a chest of drawers. Not only was furniture confounded; there was scarcely anything left of body or mind by which one could say, "This is he" or "This is she." Sometimes a hand was raised as if to clutch something or ward off something, or somebody groaned, or somebody laughed aloud as if sharing a joke with nothingness.

Nothing stirred in the drawing-room or in the dining-room or on the staircase. Only through the rusty hinges and swollen sea-moistened woodwork certain airs, detached from the body of the wind (the house was ramshackle after all) crept round corners and ventured indoors. Almost one might imagine them, as they entered the drawing-room questioning and wondering, toying with the flap of hanging wall-paper, asking, would it hang much longer? Would it fall? Then smoothly brushing the walls, they passed on musingly as if asking the red and yellow roses on the wall-paper whether they would fade, and questioning (gently, for there was time at their disposal) the torn letters in the wastepaper basket, the flowers, the books, all of which were now open to them and asking, Were they allies? Were they enemies? How long would they endure?

So some random light directing them with its pale footfall upon stair and mat, from some uncovered star, or wandering ship, or the Lighthouse even, the little airs mounted the staircase and nosed round bedroom doors. But here surely, they must cease. Whatever else may perish and disappear, what lies here is steadfast. Here one might say to those sliding lights, those fumbling airs that breathe and bend over the bed itself, here you can neither touch nor destroy. Upon which, wearily, ghostily, as if they had feather-light fingers and the light persistency of feathers, they would look, once, on the shut eyes, and the loosely clasping fingers, and fold their garments wearily and disappear. And so, nosing, rubbing, they went to the window on the staircase, to the servants' bedrooms, to the boxes in the attics; descending, blanched the apples on the dining-room table, fumbled the petals of roses, tried the picture on the easel, brushed the mat and blew a little sand along the floor. At length, desisting, all ceased together, gathered together, all sighed together; all together gave off an aimless gust of lamentation to which some door in the kitchen replied; swung wide; admitted nothing; and slammed to.
[Here Mr. Carmichael, who was reading Virgil, blew out his candle. It was midnight.]

But what after all is one night? A short space, especially when darkness dims so soon, and so soon a bird sings, a cock crows, or a faint green quickens, like a turning leaf, in the hollow of the wave.


And here, too, the sky has begun to turn from black to blue and soon it shall be day. It is 7:00 am.

Have a wonderful day, everyone! I think I shall spend mine sleeping, though, after my morning class (and after I buy some Nyquil).

1 comment:

haKiruv said...

I hope you feel better soon. It's nice to see someone positive even though they're sick. One of the things I like about waking up early in the morning, is know that a beautiful day is a head of me. Or if I'm extremely tired from pulling an all-nighter, how tough of a day I have ahead, which isn't necessarily fun. I just recently got over a cold I had for almost two weeks.