My day begins before the sun arrives. In the morning dark, that semi-friendly time of the day where you can just barely make out the traces of the night before, I sit up, shake my head and clear up my head.
Damn. My feet are hurting again. Better wear my nylons to bed tomorrow night. The dog is sleeping at my feet, the wife is snoring in our large Californian King, and the kid is asleep, sideways, on her bed, no doubt dreaming about monsters or dogs or princes. I forget my dreams, mostly. The ones I do remember are usually the result of medication, and sometimes a late night snack, peanut butter and jelly, chips and ESPN. Those are the dreams that make me feel funniest; usually they are of dark men and darker intent, sneaking around our stucco home. It butts up against the hills and we can hear the coyotes howl on cold nights when sound travels and food is scarce. I look at my clock and think: one hour from the time I get up. I can be at work, best case scenario, in one hour.
I yank the shower knob and step under the stream, searching for soap and a reason to open my eyes. Quick – think – what do you have to look forward to today? I was supposed to be a great man. But somewhere along the way I sold it for a comfortable couch and a remote control. Used to be that I could work for hours – 14, 15 a week, sleep for an hour and do it all over again. I can’t do that anymore, not even close, though my younger colleagues can and it puts me at a distinct disadvantage. Then I go home and play with my daughter, while the rest of them go home to their condos on the beach and sexy girl friends. They work late, usually, because there’s nothing good on tv most days and they have nothing better to do than build their careers. Most already have kids, all divorced or ignored.
I have to get my work done in 10 hours, something that is becoming more of a challenge everyday. Think it’s easy? Make the choice: get to know your wife and child or get to know your work. Can’t have both, not anymore, there are no more jobs out there that let a fella be a family man with a real career. So I go to work, knowing that I will not get everything done, and that if I don’t leave at a certain time, my one hour commute will turn mean and long, two hours of choked traffic, bumper to bumper for 30 miles or more.
I will get home after my kid goes to bed, get up and leave before she awakens. And the next thing you know, it’s been a week and I have yet to speak to my only child.
And the weeks turn so easily into years.