A stout woman with dark skin and hair, clothed in a housekeeping uniform, wipes down aglass paneled door, first outside, then inside, on the first of two floors of La Case del Camino, a historic hotel of plastered walls and classically Spanish tile sloping roofs that is just outside my office window. In the distance, a thick haze hugs the shore, inching to the lower rooftops and almost completely obliterating the ocean. On the expansive flat rootop, surrounded by a protective glass railing, tables and chairs sit idle, some folded against each other, while several broad white umbrellas, that will later shade guests from the sun that inevitably breaks through the haze, are so tightly closed and wrapped as to seem like a torpedo ready for launch into the sky. By sunset this rooftop will be bustling with locals and tourists who enjoy this perfect view of sunset, and enjoy being seen, but for now, the morning view is obscured and the stillness a respite from the nightlife of southern California.
I have never been much of a morning person and would have been more in tune with my body clock if I could have risen a bit later than most and worked from eleven to seven. However, life’s timepiece requires an early rise for school, work, children, and we tend to rush through our mornings as the conduit to the day’s obligations and activities. Few take the time or have the time to treasure the delights of morning, something I do more often on California time, as if an accommodation to my New York inner clock. I never need an alarm, I waken to the sunlight, ready for the day. Mornings, marked by the light, are measured by sound and scent more than action. The scent of freshly washed cobblestones on the Bronx street where I grew up, and the concomitant scent of eggs and bacon sizzling together in an iron fry pan on the stove. These delicious aromas co-mingled with the toxic odor of diesel fumes from delivery trucks and the ubiquitous thump of the loading ramp when opened from the back of the truck to start the slide of boxes of produce and bakery goods and hardware supplies to local merchants. It is a distinct and powerful sound – the opening bell of daily commerce, the energy of early morning, the powerful ring of daily momentum.
All these years later, so far from those early morning street sounds, I awaken now and then in the midst of the night to hear waves tossing their ocean froth to shore. This steady, rhythmic boom, muffled during the day by street noise, is a sweet reminder of my own journey. The power of personal momentum.
Objects or concepts moving forward are said to have momentum. Surely one’s life experience can be characterized as having momentum. Or, alternatively, stagnation. A third option: contentment. What a new friend calls harmony. Surely the goal, especially at this stage of life.
I move this week-end from the lovely ocean-view cottage I have happily called home for three years to a little house on an in-town street aptly named La Serena. One town south, just beyond the border of Laguna Beach, although I will retain my Laguna persona. After all, that’s why I’m here. No hillside or water views in my next environs. No sound of the surf. Rather the contented chatter of humming birds nesting on the hibiscus trellis atop a quiet patio garden. These will likely be my first morning sounds. Followed by the voices of NPR who accompany my every morning. They move with me wherever I go. Voices of reason. The echo of the city girl who never strays too far from her humble beginnings. A whole life reverberating through the air from a radio station.
It is these alternating sounds of morning that ground me to myself. Thus, one finds contentment within momentum. In defiance of metaphysical gravity. Or, as Scarlett reminded us, tomorrow is another day. Always another day. Therein lies the joy of morning.