Every weekday, I climb out of bed at 7:50am. I stumble towards to bathroom, where I wash my face, and brush my teeth and hair. Within the next few minutes, I toss on make-up and clothes, and walk out the door with my husband at 8:20. This is a study in efficiency, because the more minutes I can shave off of my getting ready process = the more minutes I have to snuggle under the blankets. Know what I mean?
We walk down Thorndale towards the El red line stop, swipe our fare cards, and push through the turnstyle. At this point we’re listening carefully for the tell-tale rumble of the trains on the rails above, and if we hear the train approaching it’s time to run up the stairs, taking them two at a time, breathing quickly by the time we reach the wooden platform.
We catch the train in opposite directions, me Southbound towards my job and him Northbound towards school. Usually I can find a seat on the train unless there’s been some kind of funky train delay, so I find a place to sit that doesn’t have any weird-looking splotches or stains, or a piece of gum.
I settle in and snooze during the 20 minute ride, leaning my head on the window if the train isn’t jostling me too much. I frequently have full-fledged dreams, but haven’t once missed my stop because of this little habit–my brain knows to activate when I hear the automated announcer saying in his even voice “Belmont is next. Doors open on the right at Belmont.”
Belmont is a busy station, with three different lines coming through (purple, brown, red), so I jostle my way off the train and down the steps to street level, to the #77 bus stop. I see familiar faces–the short girl with the curly black hair and the snappy eyes, standing next to her very tall husband. The large woman with the baby-blue coat and her Starbucks coffee, doing a crossword puzzle in the paper. The old woman–or man?–with the shag of greasy grey hair held back by a colorful headband, with appliqued flowers on her cane, crumbling nail polish, and bright red lipstick smeared too generously over thin lips, listening to loud heavy metal on a pair of white headphones. We all look to the left, searching the traffic for the telltale orange lights that tell us the bus is coming.
The bus rumbles to a stop; we all get on, swipe our fare cards, find a seat. Fifteen minutes later, I’m walking into my office.
As I swipe my fob on the grey sensor pad and unlock the door, the powerful smell of punch greets my nose–though after a few seconds, I can no longer smell it. By this time, the guys have already been working in the factory area for a couple hours, but I’m usually the only one in the office. My boss travels a lot, and when he does come in, it’s not always first thing. So when I enter the silent space, I breathe a sigh that says “here we go.”
I leave the lights off, choosing to work by the natural light from the windows instead.
I slip off my shoes. I sit in my chair. I plug in my cellphone and start recharging it. I log in to the computer and pull up my email. The screen glows brightly as I consult my list of things to do, organized on a tangerine colored pad of post-it notes (one per day). If it’s cold, I switch on the foot heater under my desk and wiggle my toes with pleasure when that first blast of warm air hits them.
Then it’s time to take care of business, and deal with whatever is in my inbox. I may write emails to clients, do a check run, process order confirmations in Quickbooks, or make a quick call to touch base with our Logistics Manager, Brian. I may scan a bill of lading, or FedEx an envelope with export papers to Haiti. Or the phone may ring, and I’ll find myself transitioning to Spanish to have a quick conversation with our enthusiastic, fast-talking customer from Guatemala and trying to keep up with him as he opens the call with his traditional “Hooooola, mujer!!”
After I get through all my pending emails and prepare all the documents for the orders shipping out the next day–then it’s time to get out of my chair.
Slowly walk, barefoot, to the kitchen area. Turn on the Keurig. Do 30 squats as it heats up. And I brew that first cup of coffee–Caribou Breakfast Blend, or Green Mountain’s Dark Magic, or maybe the Hazelnut flavor I’m trying out. While the hot liquid splashes into my cup, I do a few vertical pushups against the wall, and feel the blood flowing through my arms. I mix in a little creamer–or virtuously go without, if I’m feeling particularly health-driven (or if we’re simply out of creamer).
I head back to my desk with my hands cupped around the mug, absorbing the comforting heat through my palms, feeling the warmth relax my muscles. A sigh of happiness moves through me, and I sit down again, propping my feet up on the tower of the computer lodged under my desk.
I look out the window at the swirling, abstract, colorful shapes created by the rows of brick glass panes, and my head fills with prayers. Prayers of thanksgiving for my comfortable job, the warm office, my beautiful marriage, a God I can rest in no matter what’s going on in the crazy world.
I lift the cup to my lips . . . and take that first sip.