Work-Life balance: Daily routines and the quality of light / by Christina Rosalie

I leave and arrive now in the in-between light; the light first spreading from the un-tucked hems of the morning, or the light leftover at the end of the day that spreads like a stain across the tablecloth of evening. On the way in, I drive with Bean. For the first part of the drive we’re mostly quiet as I sip a flat white in a ceramic cup and eat fried eggs wrapped in a soft flour tortilla, and he watches me from the back seat, patient, knowing better than to demand too much interaction before caffeine and quiet have set the internal tuning fork of my mind to thrumming with alertness.

Then we talk.

He asks me to tell him about summer when I was small, and when he asks, I smile, my mind slipping to the far off drawers of memory I keep inside my head.

I tell him about going to Bryce canyon and riding horseback with an old guide named Pinky up and down the steep canyon cliffs. I tell him about packing just enough clothes to fit in a sigle drawer in the camper; about the sketch book I always kept; and about about the way my older sister would yell at me every night when it was time to set up the tend and I’d just stand there holding the stakes, staring off at a neighbor’s campsite or into the sagebrush, stalking stories with my eyes.

I tell him about the jackrabbits with their enormous ears and big hind feet, and about the full moon above the canyon and the silvery pink rocks; and then I picture what it will be like in another summer from now when Sprout is a little older and we can travel together, all four of us, across this wide, wide country through the dessert to end up at the wild Pacific where we’ll collect sand dollars and blow on bull kelp bugles.

And abruptly we’re there, in the snow covered parking lot of his little school, and I pull up in the drop-off circle and he unbuckles his seatbelt and leans forward to kiss me and then grabs his backpack and goes in.

It seems improbable, all of this.

That I am leaving and arriving in the nearly light of early morning and the twilight of a spent day; that I have a job like this, full on, full time, full of possibility; that I am the mother to an almost seven year old who does the things I remember doing. Kisses me on the cheek, grabs his backpack, goes to school.

I remember that same routine with the indelible clarity of long term memory. The feeling of my backpack, the way my sneakers looked against the walkway cement leading up to my classroom door. I had a favorite cobalt blue sweater and my bottom teeth were missing, just like his—though his are growing in crooked like T’s were.

Bean's little boy smile is almost unrecognizable to me some days. He's a certifiable kid, now. Half way to fourteen already.

And so I kiss him quickly and then he slams the car door and goes into his blue school building where he spends the day discovering the world, while I drive off into the city and park, and then climb three flights of stairs and settle into my little brick and windowed office where I watch the light shift across the walls above my head.

I drink more coffee in a white mug, and at lunch I go running outdoors along the bike path that I used to run on every day when I first moved to this city and started running years ago. It feels strangely familiar: each turn and slope somehow written into the kinetic memory that the soles of my feet recall.

Snow cakes under my shoes, and I have to kick them hard against the ground every so often to loosen it, and above the lake the light is almost entirely flat gray, save for a place where the clouds are ripped and a rosy apricot spills through.

When I return, I am red faced, sweating, and focused and the rest of the day slips by in an ellipsis of concentration; the dark gathering unexpectedly, without my watching. When I return home, the house is full of lamplight and yelling. The boys are hungry. Dinner is on the table. The dog is whirling under foot.

This is the new tempo of things. The new state of leaving and arriving; the way the quality of light reveals much about this new process of becoming.

// How does daylight mark your daily routines? What do you spend your day doing?