Where were you at 7am?

Those long seconds of thought that happen once I open my eyes in the morning, before I'm fully awake and aware took me through several years of 7am in an instant. I checked the time, tried to remember my dreams but instead was flooded with memories.

I remember 7am in Seminole, OK, returning home after dropping Jacob off at the yard, carrying a sleepy ten month old into our chilly duplex. There was 7am that first summer with August in Del Rio and doing some early morning grocery shopping with her in the sling. She was still too tiny to hold her head up on her own, sleeping so deeply. There was greeting 7am after not being able to sleep because I had pregnancy insomnia. Hearing birds chirp and feeling the sting of a sleepless night in my eyes still makes me feel a bit anxious. The 7am in Indiana was cleaning the juicer to I Love Lucy in room 19.  Once, 7am was a truck stop somewhere in the South. I can't remember the state but I do remember the guard's kiosk, the clean bathrooms and feeling surprisingly rested. The 7am in Baltimore was a walk from room 25 to the hotel breakfast area for some juice and use of the toaster. Sometimes I mingled with the hotel staff, watched the morning news with them.  We became friends after being there six weeks or so. There was 7am at the bus stop a block away from my house in Austin. I always felt the wait for the bus was too long but I appreciated the morning air and looked forward to reading on the bus for thirty minutes or so.

If I dropped in on any of these places at 7am, I don't think much would have changed. After traveling and living in different cities and small towns, adapting to my surroundings, always a bit of culture shock, I have learned that places don't miss me. They continue on and on and never pine or wonder where I am. 

The experience of these past three years has fulfilled that thought I would have while on the way to school in my small hometown. I would pass the same houses on the same streets everyday, setting out at 7am.  Who are these people in these houses? What do they do?  What were other people doing in other places I didn't even know existed? I did want to know what it would be like to live somewhere else, be someplace completely different at that very moment. How would I feel to be so far from home,  everyone a stranger? 

I eventually found out that strange places, strange faces don't remain unfamiliar if you stick around long enough. I made Austin unfamiliar pretty quickly, it was easy to do, it was nothing more than a large town, not the city it is today.  But all those places I have seen since Austin, all the 7am's I have had...it was now 7:09.


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