I wake up early even though it's Sunday, and I'm at my parents house, and in my own room, and they've already left for the day. It's probably the way the sun comes in and hits me across the legs, the way the room is still full of night chill but I'm cozy under heavy comforters, the way I can stretch and turn over and stretch again.

I pad to the bathroom, take a long shower under pounding water, God, I've missed this shower, steaming cleansing streaming water. On my face, my back, my hair; lather, rinse, repeat; lather, rinse, repeat. A towel, (two to be precise), warm from the radiator and clothes, clean from the dryer.

Breakfast, rustle something up in my mother's kitchen. I open the verticals and let the yellow sun pour in, the back porch and trees all brilliant with autumn. T'is warm, a coffee, eggs, toast. Coming home always makes me feel like an old-fashioned breakfast. The house creaks as I proceed to open every shade in the house, windows and blinds letting in both gold and cold.

I have the car, I'm going to go somewhere, no way I'm staying inside on a glorious October day, crisp and clear and warm in the sunlight and chilled in the shade, blue and sky and brightness. Drive a little aimlessly, find myself at one of the state parks nearby, empty at 10:00 a.m. in Autumn.

I'm not dressed for this, climbing; in fact, I'm not really dressed for any outdoor activities, I only have a thin sweater and the wrong shoes but the rocks! and trees! and the air and the way the stream moves swift and clear near the hiking trail and oh! I'm off and moving.

I've climbed this trail once before, summers ago, with my brothers. It's less recognizable with leaves all over, when I get to the halfway mark I am breathing deep and heavy, filling my lungs. I stand on the rocky outcrop and take in the sight of my town, city, county spread out beneath me. Moments, really, then I feel the need to move up and on, stretching my legs to and scrabbling for handholds, I left the trail somewhere and I'm climbing up the side of the hill monkey-like.

I could fall and hurt myself, no one would know. I could get lost (but not really) and no one would know where I was, unless they traced the car left after sunset to my parents. I could reach the top of the world and share the triumph with myself, alone in clear sunlight and brilliance.

I do, and stand there breathing, nose and fingers red with exertion and cold, tingling with life and thrill and power and me. Just me.

I take my time going back down.

I stay up all night, long after all the old movies and infomercials are done. I had watched Ben-Hur for what seemed like the first time.

I think about how I've been sleeping in later and later, and how I don't especially care. I haven't bathed for seven days. I feel as if I have no friends - and I don't.

Moving to a new place is always difficult. Though I'd had troubles in my previous home, mostly because I'd get into fights and win every one, I miss it. I miss the people who didn't want to kick my ass; I even miss the people whose asses I did kick, and would later come to my house in groups to threaten and spit.

I walk outside. It is foggy, and the fog is so thick that I can feel its wetness seeping into my clothes. The sky is beginning to light. The fog will clear soon, when the sun gets to be overhead, but it is five in the morning, so I still have time. I walk back inside to put on my shoes. I forget socks.

Outside again, I feel the cold, healthy air on my face. It's coming from the ocean (today I miss the smell the most), and it's cold enough to perk up my small male-nipples and turn my legs and arms a little purple. I know this will pass, and it will be annoyingly hot in the afternoon. My mind is blank as I begin to walk. I walk over the hill, toward the harbour. I change my direction, beelining to the ocean, to pass my school. I go to what I will in the future refer to as the smokepit. I see the cigarette butts of forgotten years mashed into the dirt and pavement. I don't know yet that I will be here, that I'll sit here with friends and enemies around me, almost at arm's length. I continue my walk.

I get to the ocean when the sun is finished warming the sky, sunrise long gone. I walk through the War Memorial, over Water Street. I walk down a small dirt road. I must touch the water. I go past empty shops and ancient houses, and find the seashore. St. John's Harbour is not fit for swimming, I realize, but I take off my shoes. I forget them, and place my feet in the cold, cold water.

Suddenly, amazingly, I am filled with my connection to the earth. I know of nothing around me. I can only feel the rocks and seaweed under my feet. I reach down at the seaweed, and timidly touch it with the first two fingers of my left hand. Its green-purple surface shines in the brightening light. I feel important, I feel necessary. I feel as if I am a part of a greater whole.

Because my feet are in the ocean, so cold.

I look to my left, and I see a jellyfish caught between some rocks. A memory surfaces of when I was young, catching jellyfish and bringing them in to shore, laughing at their brainless forms. I do not know if the jellyfish is alive, I don't know if tide is coming in soon, or if it is going out. I scoop its pink-blue-white form up with both hands. The tentacles fall under my hand. I hold it at arm's length, careful not to get stung. That would ruin my day. I note with some wonder its weight as I place it in the water.

I get up without noticing its progress. I turn away, almost smiling, immense happiness fills my chest. I don't want to see if it lives or if it is dead. I simply know that I did something good, some small, minute thing. My disappointment would be quite great if it was dead already.

Later, I have a shower.

Her shoulder aches as she reaches across her body to silence the alarm clock. Typically she would go for a walk but the pouring rain gives her an excuse to skip it. Showering in the dark reminds her of the scars on her body and how it doesn’t work as well as it used to. Today her hair is thick and dark but she remembers a time when it was sparse, thin and falling out. She dresses apathetically. None of the men she works with care what she wears. Today she doesn’t care either. Day breaks but she’s indifferent to the rising sun. A mug of hot tea is drunk thoughtlessly. She picks up things others have left behind as she walks through the house.

Treasures from the day before include a hairbrush she had been looking for earlier and the crumpled soccer jersey her daughter wore to last night’s game. She closes a bag of snacks and arranges the shoes by the door. Imagining life without her daughter brings a lump to her throat. When she opens her daughter’s bedroom door she smiles sadly as a wave of profound love runs through her. In the car the music is lackluster and uninspiring. The rain has died but the air is heavy with mist and unshed tears. She drives slowly and carefully. Her lunch sits in a bag her husband bought her. He’s back at home, still asleep in their bed. Thinking about him is too painful. She concentrates on the traffic and weather reports instead.

At work she answers phone calls and exchanges pleasantries with her co-workers. No one notices that she’s moving more slowly today. She feels every day of her forty-odd years. Her knee throbs as she walks down the hall. The to-do list on her desk overwhelms her. She picks up a pen and the list, grabs her phone and starts making calls. By ten o’clock she’s made eleven calls. At noon the list has been cut in half. The call she’s been waiting for comes just before three. It comes at the same time her daughter would be done with school for the day. She picks her cell-phone up anxiously, simultaneously wanting to hear what the doctor has to say and dreading speaking with him.

When the call is finished she sets her phone down. Her work for the day is almost done. Just a few more names on her list of people to call. Numbly she pushes buttons on her cell-phone. Her husband answers before the first ring tone finishes. He’s been waiting for her call, a burst of pain blossoms in his chest because he understands that for people like her there is an indescribable difference between living your life and being really, truly alive.

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