I got up early. We were getting a few things installed in the office, and the installation guys just had to start at 6:30am. The night before, I set my alarm for 5:30am. Why does the phone have to tell you how many hours you have left? I had four hours and fifty-two minutes of time remaining. Now, I can get by with only six hours of sleep, but when I go under the five-hour mark, things get hairy. I wasn’t even in the elevator yet, and I knew it would take me at least a half an hour before I would be dead asleep. But I’d had a relaxing Sunday, and the next morning all I had to do was watch a couple of guys drill this and screw that. It wouldn’t be that bad.
The next morning, I didn’t want to wake everyone up, so I got out of bed without hitting the snooze a million times. A cigarette, a cup of tea, and a bit of washing and I was out the door with the usual twenty minutes to spare. It was 6:10am and the roads were barren, aside from the person making egg things for breakfast. I love those things. I didn’t get one. Even though the streets were empty, I was in a hurry because I still thought it would take me twenty minutes to get to work. It’s my twenty-minute habit. It took me five minutes to get to the office. I should have gotten an egg thing. Early mornings around here are awesome. I warn you guys not to ignore them.
Early mornings start with that powerful flow of chi that the sunrise brings. They’re fresh and full of energy. Around the lake, we’ve got people doing martial arts in slow motion. Bicycle riders don’t ring their bells. You don’t have to wait for taxis. Once again, I’ll mention those egg things. They’re fantastic, and cheap to boot. Early mornings are cool. Busses have vacant seats. Old friends can be heard speaking Hangzhou hua in between the smiles. Newspaper guys are methodically filling their bike packs. Then you have the folks who slowly walk backwards and the rhythmic sorts who spin side to side on those round disks. Let’s not forget the youtiao that are carefully placed in the bubbling oil.
I didn’t need a cigarette. I just sat and watched the tree sway. The installation guy drilled into the wall, but it wasn’t bothersome. A tile broke from the wall, but I wasn’t upset. It was an old tile anyway. Some fabric was ripped. It could easily be repaired. The little girl from around the corner came pattering down the sidewalk in her flip flops grinning ear to ear. I asked her when she would be going back to her hometown to start school, and she said she would leave in two days. “When are you coming back?” “I’m not.” And she flip flopped away, her hand waving behind her.
By Tim Hoerle