When I was in high school my mom woke me up every morning by screaming up the stairs, in her soul-slicing maternal voice, “REBECCA, IT’S TIME TO GET UP.” She did this every school day, for an approximate total of four years. There came a morning when I jolted awake and realized that there was something to this repetitive dedication, this drive to walk to the bottom of the stairs at a specific time and holler at her daughter to start her day. She probably got tired of it, but she never stopped. And I would ignore her as much as possible. She would yell my name several times, her voice cracking. I listened to this so many times, curled up in my green blanket, my face buried into my pillow. To this day I can hear her cracking voice easily, yelling at me to get up. The same lilt to her voice every time, the same emphasis, burned into my brain forever.
This is not a microcosm for any circumstances in my overall life. I’m simply expressing two things here: my admiration of my mom’s dogged dedication to making sure I began my day, every day, and the lasting bitter, stubborn dislike of loud forces ushering me forward into the event horizon which shares such a similar feeling with that yelling. Also, the recognition that the pressure has always been on, and it’s always involved a lack of sleep and a big scary day ahead. I think to when I thought this wasn’t going to be eternal, but now I have my iPhone’s alarm clock, almost every single morning, bleeping at me to move. I groan, I force myself up on shaky arms and whack my head on a big floating slab of dread. The Daily Dread. There is always something to worry about, something in the near future that exudes unpleasantness.
I wonder if my mother had experienced this consistently when she was younger. I don’t recall her working very much, she was a stay at home mom. Despite this, she woke up every day at 4AM and made herself a cup of orange pekoe tea. Mother, what drove you to this madness? She didn’t have to wake up for anything, she just did because that’s what she wanted. I used to sneak down and sit on the stairs and peek down at her to see what she was doing. She sat at the kitchen table, all by herself, staring off into nothing, drinking her tea. Imagine the scene: a little girl, sitting silent and immobile on some steps, staring down at her mother staring at the wall.
I wake up early in the morning not because I want to, but because I have an aspiration. This dream has been dragging me along for quite some time, and I’m pretty much a body in a bag, my skin getting all scraped up. But the dream keeps dragging me along, and I look up at it (or imagine it when my face is buried in my pillow), and it’s so big and shiny. I want it. Damn it.
The aspiration is sort of a foggy, obscure, blurry big shiny blob though.
Okay, and maybe I am comparing this to my mother’s compulsion to force me into activity daily with her screeching voice, so it’s like a metaphor, I guess, actually. There’s some microscopic connection that makes my brain hurt (or shrink into some corner of my skull). But I also love my mother and love this memory of being hateful and put off. Like I remember fondly how much she annoyed me.
I look back fondly at my achievements, paltry as they may be. Boring as they may be, too. That does happen.
I have yet to figure out whether dragging my exhausted body forward is a good thing. I did get all A’s in high school. However, my mother didn’t give a shit about my grades.