I woke up early this morning to spend time alone with words. I was careful to mute the alarm before it sounded. I am half-dressed, unwashed and unbrushed. Those things make too much noise. I am stealing these minutes from the front of my day.
My wife and daughter are still hidden away in sleep. I am careful not to wake them. I tell myself this sneaking is a kind of generosity, a concern that they not wake too early and deprive themselves the benefits of a few extra minutes sleep. The truth is I want this time to be secret, my time alone with words.
Would it hurt them to wake up and realize that I have been awake for 20 minutes already and thought not to involve them in the small ritual of this morning? Not so. I tell myself they would be grateful I was good enough to steal these minutes out of the part of the day they are not using, have no use for.
Why will you call this clandestine morning meeting an affair? It is both more than and less than that. I have to be sly these days to meet myself. I have to step lightly and leave no track. I have to be smart if I want to spend my time alone with words. Even if the words are stubborn and churlish. Yes, very much like an affair. The words are an ungrateful lover, dissatisfied with the small gift I have stolen for her.
I am here. I brought myself. We can be together.
Not enough, she says. If you loved me, you would have woken earlier. You would have given me more.
And it is true. These stolen minutes are not enough, just as bodies sweating in a rented bed can never be a marriage. She is impatient and dissatisfied. And yet, it is her impatience, her dissatisfaction that draws me and will draw me again.
And when the heat has cooled, I am left with the fact of my treachery. It is both delicious and crippling.
Yes, very much like an affair.
You will meet me again tomorrow?
I will try.
She is already silent, lost inside her thoughts about the day ahead, the parts of her life that will happen without me.
I am the first to leave the room but she is already gone.
I turn out the light. Close the door. Tell myself this lonely, unsettled feeling is something related to love.