It is the emptiness that is worst now; the feeling I get when I wake up and roll over, finding nothing at all to stop me. It is the coolness of the sheets when I crawl into bed, the way I curl up into a tiny ball, conserving my own heat until the blankets finally warm up. It is these things, the tiny, gentle things, that I notice most of all—the moments in the morning when I an not quite awake, when my mind operates on silence and sound, when I expect to hear the breath of another in the early hours. It brings a melancholy to my wakings, and I turn over, again and again, falling back into the restless oblivion of sleep. I miss the warmth of another, crawling close in the cold of the night, miss the caress of breath on my cheek, miss the feeling of arms wrapped around my body. It is all these things and more that bring everything back to me, and when at last I can no longer deny the day, the chill of the morning air is like a bitter memory washing over me, taking the last comfortless fragments of my dreams and pulling them away with rough hands.
I stand there naked for a moment, the thin fabric of my night-gown chilling instantly to the temperature of the air around me, affording no protection at all. I pretend there is no bed behind me, no comforting blankets and liquid heat to lull me back into sleep—for their allure is undeniable and irresistible. It is these things that I must overcome every morning, the voices of loneliness, of emptiness that call to me. It is these things that I must shed with my night-gown, and these things that I leave on the floor of my bedroom, discarded with the morning and the light that streams around my windows. Every morning I stand in the chill air of my bedroom, unwilling to leave behind the emptiness that is my constant companion; and every morning, I peel oft my night-clothes unwillingly, standing naked in the cool drafts of my room, letting the morning blow the last cobwebs from my mind. The day cannot begin with these shadows, and I choose my clothes carefully, deciding which most suits the day, dressing like a doll, stripping away layers of loneliness and heartache with each layer I put on. I dress for winter, here, and it is forbidden to dress lightly if the morning weighs heavy on me.
It is not the day that matters, after all. It is the morning, and once I have stepped beyond the morning, I know I will survive the day that follows. So I dress for the morning, do my hair with care and precision, for the routine is comforting and the methods I follow are familiar, always solitary. It puts space in the day, a time where even when I am not alone, I am alone. The brush flows, curls, twists, and pulls the night out of my hair as the wind has blown it from my flesh. The mirror is low, and I kneel to see in it, and that simple act brings back—every morning—a flood of memories, of the type that mothers and fathers prefer I not have. But they are there, flocking to my brain like scavengers, wild and raucous, and they drive away a little more of the lethargic melancholy that threatens to keep me in bed all the day and night. I welcome them, embrace them, and sometimes I tremble with the force of their assault, and my flesh remembers the coolness of earth instead of the rough carpet that supports my knees. There is that moment, every morning, when all that I am missing is not gone, is present indeed in mind and body. I wake for that moment, and I continue moving beyond it, propelled by the flood of energy it brings.
It is not the day that matters, I remember, it is only the morning. I have lost many mornings in the night before, waking late and later, but it is still a morning, even if the sun is past its height. It is the morning that clings to me, keeps me warm, and it is the morning that I must shake off and leave on the floor behind me, for the breezes to devour at their daily leisure. I do, every morning or afternoon, like a discarded husk in the shape of a baby-blue night-gown lying across the foot of my bed, and I pull on clothing made of tougher stuff, like my soul, leaving the fragility of my heart behind and wrapping myself in fabric to block the chill, cut through the wind that cuts through me. It is in the mornings alone that the feeling is the worst, that I cannot bear to bear it alone, and when I have dressed and brushed my hair, tidied the clutter of the previous night, I think then that I may know how to survive the day. When I pull on shoes with thick soles and high sides, feel my toes grow warm with trapped heat, feel my flesh forget the cloying, commanding sensation of the bed, I know I can walk out the door without feeling the pain too much. It is then, the morning beside me, that I believe in all the things I have left behind in the miasma of dreams; but it is not until the air outside the apartment doors hits my face that I know for certain that I have survived them.