10:30pm I set my alarm for 5am, an ungodly hour to be upright and functioning. I settle down, pulling the covers up under my chin and think about what tomorrow holds. In the morning I’ll head to Sacramento to scout out a potential new writing curriculum. After the workshop, I’ll scoot over to a friend’s house to ride our bikes along the American River Trail. And if there’s time, I might even squeeze in a little shopping. It looks to be a full, fun day. I turn over in bed, ticking off the things I’d packed in the car. Bike? Check. Bike clothes, helmet, gloves, etc? Check, check, check, etc. Healthy snacks for the road? Check. Glasses? Check. I roll over in bed and make sure the sound on my alarm is turned up. Check
2am I wake up in a panic, sure I’d slept through my alarm. I pad to the bathroom and slip back in bed.
3am Seriously, am I going to wake up every hour until it’s time to get up?
4am Apparently so.
Sometime between 4:30 and 5:40am I dream that I wake up hours after my alarm was set to go off. In my dream my teeth began to fall out. My molars came out in 2’s and 3’s, right there in my hand. The pain shot through my head, but just as I wondered why my teeth were abandoning ship, I started vomiting. So violent were my dream heaves that I sit straight up in bed, my stomach cramping into a tight fist, waking me with a start.
5:40am I run my tongue over my teeth and breathe a sigh of relief that all of my pearly whites are firmly in place. My relief lasts approximately three seconds until I look at the time. 5:40?!? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! My alarm was supposed to go off forty minutes ago! I have 20 minutes to tame my bedhead and get on the road to make the drive to Sacramento.
6:10am I pull out of the driveway, pleased I’m only 10 minutes late. I flick on some music and settle in for two and half hours of solitude in the car. The sunrise has painted the clouds fuchsia.
8:25am Traffic is moving quickly and I should arrive at the workshop with just enough time to park and check in. This day might just turn out okay after all.
8:30am 15 minutes away from my destination, my phone buzzes. Missed call from school. I’ll call them when I get there, it’s probably some last-minute thing about the purchase order for this workshop. My phone buzzes a second, then a third, then a fourth time. On the fifth buzz, I pull into a rest area and check my messages. All the messages and texts tell me the same thing: the workshop has been cancelled. I sit in the parking lot, at a loss as to what to do next. Should I turn around and drive the two and a half hours home? That sounds ridiculous. I call our school secretary and she changes my day to a personal day. I decide to ride my bike and shop. I pinch myself to make sure this isn’t a dream within a dream kind of thing happening.
9:30am I pull up to my friend’s house and we throw our bikes in the back of his truck and head out to the American River Trail. The weather is perfect, cool with a slight breeze. We ride by Lake Natoma and I breathe in the smell of the earth. Everything is green and lush. I’m again tempted to pinch myself. Who would have thought I’d be riding one of my favorite trails on a Tuesday morning?
12:00pm I pack my bike away in my car. I’m all squeaky clean and showered. Gosh, it would be silly not to do a little shopping while I was in the city. Might as well, right?
12:45pm I eat lunch in the company of a good book and then hit the stores. And miracle of miracles, I find three pairs of shoes that fit my ginormous feet. I buy them, stroking my new buttery soft leather boots.
4:00pm I hit the road in possession of my shoes, a new black jacket, a necklace and a pair of fancy pants cupcakes, which I am determined to share with my husband when I get back home.
5:00pm My alarm goes off, mocking me. Damn that AM/PM button!
6:10pm 20 more minutes and then I’m home free. Suddenly a tan sedan swerves off the road in front of me and stops nose first in the ditch in between the north and southbound lanes. I’m in the right hand lane and can’t get over to the left lane to see if everyone is okay. I frantically punch 911 into my phone and report the accident to Highway Patrol. I watch the crashed car in my rearview mirror. I see people moving inside, but nobody is getting out. Damn it, why won’t traffic move so I can pull over? Why isn’t anyone else stopping? I speed ahead and take the next exit and head South towards the car. An ambulance screams by me, lights flashing, siren blaring. I hold my breath. It feels like I don’t breathe again until I see the car and the rescue workers helping the people out of the car. I exit the southbound lane and start toward home again.
6:30pm Back at home I unpack my car and sit down for a minute, rolling my shoulders to ease the tension that has knotted between them.
10:30pm I sink into bed and check my alarm, making sure it’s set for 6:15am. I double, then triple check it just to be sure.
Sometime between 11pm and 2am I fall into a dream. I see Lake Natoma, the tree line reflected in her glassy, green face. I watch in horror as the tan sedan plunges off the road headfirst into the water. I see people moving inside, but nobody is getting out. The passengers stare at me as I ride on the other side of the lake, powerless to reach them in time.
2:02am I sit up in bed, my heart racing and beads of sweat trickling down my hairline. My lungs feel sodden with lake water. I catch my breath and lay back down. In the haze of the morning hours, I separate the filmy dream from reality, pinching myself just to be sure.
6:15am My alarm sounds and I roll out of bed. I get ready for the morning and as I look in the mirror, I wonder just what unexpected events lay ahead of me today. I slip into my new boots and take a deep breath. Some days are just so surreal.