Thoughts in a pre-dawn city

Before-dawn is an odd time. It’s the only time the city is somewhat quiet. You can hear the buzz of the fridge, the general hum of things electric – but very little traffic, no buses, no distant highway. I used to chafe nonstop at the city noise. Being from the country, I was used to quiet and dark. I loved it; it recharged me. Nature, true deep woods and fields and ocean, was only a car ride or a few steps away. It’s been very hard for me, the past eight years, to be without nature. Oh, there’s nature here – possums, raccoons, rats, and the occasional armadillo – many of which climb right up onto our second-story porch to grab a bite of catfood. There’s a lot of greenbelt in Austin, running right through downtown, corridors of forest and stream through which deer, foxes and other woodsy creatures pass on their way to Westlake or Round Rock or wherever they’ve decided to buy a home.

One day I was walking in my neighborhood, and the noise and smell of exhaust just weren’t bothering me any more. Just like that. I was relaxed, enjoying a sunny, 70-degree February day. What’s not to like about that? I thought, I may be stuck on an island in the middle of the desert, unable to leave and visit my family, and get out in true nature and get that perspective on things I’ve always relied on, but if I’m going to be trapped in a snow-globe with a city skyline, this isn’t a bad one. It’s beautiful here, for a city; I live in a pretty neighborhood where it’s green year round and the neighbors are friendly and the dogs are cute; I have good friends and, of course, my wonderful godchild, who I’m not sure I could ever leave. I have a small but fairly steady income (at the moment), I’m going back to school next month to fulfill a longtime dream (to make more money). I have the most beautiful, loving family one could ever hope for, waiting for me back in my cozy little house. And I’m starting to think cranes are elegant. Not the bird, the construction equipment. They’re everywhere here – the Austin Chronicle recently name 2006 “the Year of the Crane”. They’re so lean and . . . balance-y.

This is what happens, it would seem, when the depression and anxiety you’ve had your entire life finally lift a little. Things actually start to look decent. Or perhaps I’m just going crazy, like the monkey in the cage that one day stops chewing the bars and instead starts to rock and rock and rock. Everything’s ok, everything’s ok, everything’s ok, everything’s ok.

It’s her fault. She makes everything look all right.

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