it grated on my nerves when the birds started chirping this morning. i turned around in my chair and glared out the window—it was still dark. fuck off, i hissed. i’m not ready yet.
thirteen hours of the worst kind of writing, darting back and forth between open browser windows and documents, compulsively saving my work every few seconds: notes. bibliography. quotes. save. research paper. google. JSTOR. MLA. despair. save. frantic bargaining with no one in particular. four pills that delivered enough caffeine to make my heartbeat flutter and my bloodshot eyes stay wide and affixed to the silent computer screen.
i tried to forget it all, but little flashbacks of the utter bullshit i wrote last night keep popping into my head and making me cringe. i remember sitting here, willing my fingers across the keys steadily until i’d pause—what the fuck am i writing? does this make any sense at all?—and then realize it didn’t matter. the pages were filling up; very slowly, but things were getting done, and done was all that mattered.
i noticed halfway through the paper that what i wrote had nothing to do with my thesis. fuck it all. fuck everything. i continued anyway.
at 6.15AM i was three pages short of the minimum page length, and i was done. save. done. i started shaking, incredulous. and then i experienced morning.
normally, the only reason i would be awake and leaving the house at such a ridiculous hour would be to catch an airplane. at seven i wandered out of the garage in a stupor. i smelled that old familiar scent of sunrise. where the hell is my luggage? then i crumpled my bag into the basket of my bike and climbed on.
when i got to the greenbelt, fuzzy dawn transitioned into a sharp new light, coming from a strange angle in the sky. my shadow slid before me on the path, and all the trees were lit directly from the front. good morning, i smiled to people travelling the other way.
campus was virtually empty when i got there, and the liberal arts building was no exception. i could hear a few professors behind their closed office doors, and the heels of my shoes dragging listlessly in the hallways, but everything sounded far away. when i got to the mailroom there was a man standing there, holding something ceramic—i think it was a coffee mug, but whatever it was, my brain couldn’t process it, or his presence. the whole scene baffled me. i stared at the mailboxes, confused, for a number of minutes before i remembered that they were alphabetized, and finally located the one i needed.
riding home i saw spiderwebs—glittering tunnels built into the cracks between boards on the bridge, and thousands of gleaming filaments cast like ladders between blades of translucent green grass. i stopped for a while on the sandy bank where the river and the greenbelt stretch side-by-side under an overpass. i’d never seen it lit so brightly under there, even at sunset. i noticed a heron standing on the rocks, and when i walked closer it took off, sailing quietly over the sparkling water.