I wake up with “Mystery Box” stuck in my head on repeat. Who am I? I wonder to myself. I remember that I have a child. I remember that I have a wife. The recycling truck pulls up — lights flashing, glass clanging loudly, electric arm humming as it lifts the bright blue bin at the end of our driveway. The sounds temporarily replace “Mystery Box,” and I remember that I live in the suburbs. It’s not that I ever forget all of these things. Even in my sleep the thoughts are rolling around crashing loudly like waves in my brain: fears about what could happen to my son, worries about the toll on my relationship parenting can take. I dream. I wake. I never forget, but sometimes sleep has a way of momentarily wiping clean the slate, and I wake up disoriented. Who is this person in the bed next to me? Who am I?
I fill with anger at the recycling truck. Do not wake up my son, I think. I think about things I will do to the recycling truck if it does.
I coax myself out of sleep, out of bed. Alone time. Me time. Who am I? It’s my fifteen minutes in the morning to remember, to try not to forget. I am. I was once my own person. A singular entity with boundaries that began and ended. Tight skin and muscle tone that marked the contours of my body.
It’s dark out, and I see my reflection in my office window. Is that me? I see the rainbow colored playpen folded up in the corner, the orange tractor, and “vamoose” the moose. I see the wine bottle from the night I went into labor on the windowsill. My hair is stuck up at crazy angles, and in the reflection I see behind me a basket filled with cloth diapers waiting to be stuffed and folded. I’m a bit bleary-eyed, so perhaps, I am just not seeing clearly.