Wake up early. Do the work.
This is the only time of day when you’re allowed to lose track of time, or your phone; of your anxieties; of other people’s anxieties and their intentions or moods that you may have set off earlier — unknowingly, most of the time. Don’t check your email. Ignore the pile of laundry. Don’t balance the checkbook. Don’t return the call to your motha. Not now!
Do the work.
Unplug all alarm clocks; tape a post-it onto the never disoriented time panel in the corner of your laptop: This is the only time of day when you’re allowed to lose track of time! Measure the minutes by the number of brewed pots of coffee and your bathroom breaks (that also reek of coffee, but regurgitated). Acknowledge the arrival of noon by the jingles of the ice-cream man looping through your neighborhood.
Do the work.
Because if don‘t do the work, it will nag you like an increasing toothache, when you know damn well it’s gonna cost you a root canal when you just can’t afford health insurance. It will slip into your encounters with others: You’ll be edgy, impatient; and the poor suckers in random or scheduled interactions with you are going to set you off — unknowingly, most of the time. It will nibble at your heart — this urge to do the work, now! — and you will judge yourself for having wasted so much time already, in pursuits of silly professions and unworthy loves; and the partially worthy curiosities — but then those, at least, have given you some specific stories, in the end. You can tell yourself that, but unless you do the work — now! — every single day, it will nag you like an increasing toothache.
So: Do the fucking work.
And if you happened to wake up in the bed of another, slip out before he wakes.
You normally don’t sleep over anyway, unless he’s kind — and so boyishly lovely — he turns your ovaries into raisins. Most of the time it’s pretty clear though: Sex is sex, and you both know it. It’s clearcut and cannot be confused for affection. After it’s done, you may get up, clean up. Watch him get up, do that bathroom thing they all do; and if he’s a sweetheart — he’ll bring you a glass of water, to bed. You may linger for a while, to talk — and maybe even to cuddle, if you’re already friends enough — just so that neither of you is left feeling guilty or used. But you’ve gotta be a moron to assume he is not already thinking about the game he’s prerecorded that afternoon, in order to have you over; or the cold slice of pizza he’s dying to devour, once you’re gone. And you: You are tripping out on having to get the fuck out, just so that you don’t come off needy or, god forbid, in love. And even if you’ve got nothing waiting for you at home, still, you’ll feel better once inside your car, speeding.
Because it’s the sleeping over that fucks with a girl. When you start sleeping over — you start giving a damn. Soon enough, your pillow talks will cross boundaries into the topics of mutual failed affairs, regretted lovers, permanent heartbreaks, and anecdotes from lousy sex. (If you’re a smart girl: Whatever you do — do NOT talk shit about your exes. But you will, giving him the ammunition to judge you later, when your own story runs out its course. And when that happens, if he’s a smart boy, he won’t use it against you, in your last fights. But he will. And then, he’ll talk shit about you.) During this intimate learning of his sleeping patterns and sounds — that’s where a girl starts slipping. And in the shared waking — when neither is armed with vanity or fear — that’s where she falls.
And it is only biological, really: But sooner or later, while you are listening to his breathing change while he falls asleep, with his heavy arm resting across your breasts, holding you down in obedience to his calm gravity — you’ll dream of your firstborn. And when you do — shake him awake, and say:
“The game’s just changed its rules on you, buddy!”
Or: Slip out, before he wakes. Like a ghost, stumble your nakedness through the dark, collecting your things that he’s peeled off you two hours prior. Remember: Did you show up wearing a bra that night? or stockings, for his pleasure? And your earrings: Don’t forget those fucking earrings! You always do!
Don’t leave anything behind: It’s better that way. Don’t look back. Don’t linger. Confront your secret desires head on: That maybe, he’ll wake and ask you to stay; that maybe, he is — like you — god forbid, in love. And if you catch yourself studying the profile of your firstborn on his pillow, tousled with the locks of hair you wish you could cut off and store in a locket, shake him awake:
“The game’s just changed its rules on us, buddy!”
Get yourself home, speeding through the town that rarely knows such absence of traffic. Zoom past all the other girls, slipping out of their boys’ beds, like ghosts, in various degrees of disarray: Like you, they got dressed in the dark, lingering above the profiles of their firstborns and forgetting about those fucking earrings. They always do! Drive past the closed diners and dives, and even though you know better, scavenge for a late night cup of coffee.
And it will make you miss New York, where such deeds are less noticeable in the crowds of those in the habit of getting to bed by dawn and those that wake up early — and do their fucking work. There, humanity is constantly changing the guard. Between the insomniacs and the insane — and those who are contently unsettled by their unworthy loves — you feel less pathetic or criminal; and you somehow avoid confronting your secret desires head on.
Get home, wash off — sleep off! — the budding infatuation with the boy (unless he’s kind or boyishly lovely). Rest up. And once you wake again:
Do the fucking work.