I woke up this morning wishing I were eating breakfast on a train. I buried my face deeper under the comforter and willed myself to a dining car, watching the crop field rows ticking by like the pages in a flip book
, steeping in an atmosphere of thin dishes clanking and a weak-brewed coffee aroma. A plate of my specific craving arrives at my table—a traditional English breakfast like I once had on the banks of the River Thames in London before spending the afternoon at the Tate Modern. This breakfast, while not notably delicious, made a fond impression on me for its comic stereotype. An over-easy egg with lacy edges, dry toast, half a stewed tomato, darkly browned mushroom caps, and the sauce of baked beans steadily seeping into all the above. This meal could share a color palette with the landscape of a Midwestern barn in an autumn sunset. Is it too dreary in London to grow greens? Never mind; salt and fat are pleasing, and that’s all I want right now.
My imagined train was domestic, though. The menu items and sophistication of my fellow passengers didn’t fit with the passing “HELL IS REAL” billboard, damn it. I was somewhere in Indiana, if I had to guess. I lost the better-than-reality scenario. Another casualty of the imagination, sorted out by my pesky analytical filter.
I start and end many of my days this way, by wake-dreaming myself into another time and place. Never anything too impractical, all fragments of memories I revisit and embellish. They often include my favorite moments with people who, for whatever reason (death, breakups, distance), I don’t get to spend time with anymore. Endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin—everything we experience that gives us a good feeling is expressed through our brains. By mentally mapping out my known happiness, and having an imagination vivid enough to give it dimension, the reward of the fabrication is a material one.
By stark contrast of a moving train, I was practically immobile in my bed. My body needed an excavation if I had plans to start the day. Layer by layer, I spent the night under a flannel sheet, a knit blanket, a thick fur comforter, another knit blanket folded into fourths, and a 15-pound weighted blanket to ensure I wouldn’t float away in the night. I’m sure emergency services frowns upon this setup, but I’m small and low on iron, so the potential to not escape a house fire quickly is a lower risk than freezing to death, in my estimates. By morning the mattress held the imprint of the silhouette of my fetal position, hands reaching down to squeeze my toes in an attempt to keep my body heat on an infinity loop. I woke up with little variation from my original position.
There’s a strategy to getting out of the bed I make. Rising is like working against quicksand—you’ll just exhaust yourself and fall asleep again. You must employ a maneuver that, if you could see it uncovered, probably looks like an octopus slinking across the deck of a boat. One tentacle limb at a time, stretch out and retract the body toward your farthest reach, and repeat, until you pop out the side. The advantage to this method is that the bed rarely needs made.
From the use of my typing fingers, you’ve probably figured out that I’ve found the mental and physical motivation to escape bed and begin another day. Oh hell, begin another year.
Today is January 1, New Year’s Day, and it’s rumored to be symbolic of a new, optimistic path in life. With the exception of the omelet I ordered that was missing the avocado, the year is so far unblemished and I feel good about things ahead. I don’t really do resolutions, but I will share something I’ve enforced in myself a lot lately, and hope will come to be as natural as my pulse:
Nothing in life “happens” to me because there’s no difference between my existence and what life is. I didn’t come into the world, I came out of it. While I may have a little sway over what I want my life to look like with my actions, the most control I will ever have is in my attitude.