"Everyone's posting pictures of the sunset on Facebook," Soul Fry said last night. I'm not surprised, I said.
It had looked very orange out there, when I happened to pass a window. I had woken with a sore throat, so I had called in sick and spent my sick day folding and sorting laundry. I had already spent seven hours at a six-foot folding table by that point, and as the sun began to set, I began shuttling each person's basket to their respective rooms. It had been a relatively pleasant day, because while I folded, I was simultaneously overseeing my son on a six-hour, first-grade zoom lesson, where children were making faces at the camera, sounding out diagraphs, sticking their pencils in their noses, rolling around on the floor, drawing pictures when they should have been writing, and staring at the camera, chin in hands, when they were asked to dance. "Nice dance move, Ben," I said to my son, making fun of poor, stubborn, stationary Ben (he's our bud), and we couldn't stop laughing. Remote learning, so absurd it makes you giddy. (If you're me.) A couple sunny children wrote out in perfect script, "Today I will play by the bay" on command. Not mine. He was drawing dragons. I hadn't heard any instructions about dragons. The teacher deserves a medal.
So while Lord Fauntleroy was supposed to be calculating how many ears of corn Pocahontas had dropped on her way back the wetu hut, he said, "You know my worst fear? What if I get eaten by a dragon and pooped out the butt?"
"Get back to your work," I said and searched for pairs among the table-top spread of stretched out black athletic socks.
Now I was agitated. WHO NEEDS THIS MANY SOCKS? Still, I sorted. As I passed the windows en route to the bedrooms upstairs, I merely noted but didn't admire the pinkish orange light illuminating the yard full of fallen leaves. I don't care about the sunset. Still, it cast a dreamy hue on the big crowd of trash trees that drink cheap beer and smoke weed in the overgrown hollow that spans from my back fence all the way to Mt. Pleasant Street. Trees do not ride skateboards. It's fine; it keeps the noise down out there.
"I don't do sunsets," I told my daughter. "I'm a sunrise girl."
Yes: Mom. Every day, out in the dark, even before twilight. With the dog. And sometimes a friend. Walking into every day's new promise. Often cold. Mind almost as empty as the streets; anticipating something and, really, nothing at all. A long grey heron dips its beak in to the brackish shallows. Awake, getting on with it.
There is no nostalgia at daybreak. Daybreak looks forward. Daybreak is the sound the plastic wrap makes when you snap open a new toy at Christmas; an awaited Amazon package. It is the xxxsss of the first cold beer after a hike up and down a mountain. It is the snap of a glowstick, the click that breaks open the barriers so the chemical liquids can converge and make new light. Once bland white plastic, now hot pink, storytelling green, black-light charisma, talkative orange. Fluorescent. Winning.
Sunrise lets it begin. Again. Every day.
And you smart kids? You're not even awake yet, half of youze. That's why I'm a sunrise girl. You just lie there and rest, my friends, because sleep matters. But Imna go out with this handful of glowsticks and take the world by storm.