My morning routine...
I bounce out of bed at six-thirty. I make some coffee, start breakfast. Sebastian, my good-natured six year old, hears me clanking about, gets up around seven. At seven-ten I call out to my devoted husband, who’s impervious to clanking about, "Michael, breakfast is ready." He gets our adorable, two year old Maxie, and the four of us sit down to a nutritious breakfast. Then, Michael gets Sebastian dressed and spruced, while I myself spruce and dress. Then I walk my kindergartner to school, just in time for the eight-oh-six bell. Which is really more of a blare. That, give or take, is how it's supposed to go.
But not today. Today, I hit the snooze button twice. I rush to the kitchen. Crack some eggs, grind some coffee. Seven o’clock rolls around. No Sebastian. Seven-oh-five. Seven-ten. I open his bedroom door. "Time to get up, sleepyhead." Then back to the kitchen, skillet on the stove. This is when I take my first sip of coffee and my last deep breath of the day. Maxie starts to cry. and when I say cry, I mean scream, sounding very much like the eight-oh-six blare I'm determined not to miss. But now, I'm in the thick of it. Eggs on the skillet, sausage on the Foreman. I call out. "Michael!" No answer. I make a break for our bedroom. Daughter still screaming. Husband out cold. "Michael, Maxie is up. Breakfast is ready." He grumbles something resembling understanding. I turn, go by Sebastian's room. Also out cold. "Sebastian. Up. Now." Back to the kitchen. Place mats, forks, juice. Breakfast is ready. Scrambled eggs, sausage patties.
Firm food. My kids don’t like runny. They don't like buttery, syrupy, hot with melted brown sugar, soft boiled, poached, over easy, sunny side up. That makes breakfast choice limited: cold cereal, left over Chinese, anything spread with Nutella, or scrambled eggs, sausage patties. I usually serve this with toast, but the bread was blue.
Sebastian stumbles into the kitchen. "Sit down, sweetheart." He returns my warm tones with, "I don’t want any breakfast!" And he runs to my bedroom to seek refuge in the form of my husband. I call after him, "It will get cold." No response. No movement. I hate cold food. I have a few bites. Eggs need salt. And still no movement. I go back to my bedroom. The three of them, husband, son, daughter, in my bed. "Breakfast is ready." I turn before there is a grumbled response this time. Back to the kitchen where I seek my refuge in the form of glistening counter tops, crisp LA Times.
Finish breakfast. Finish coffee. Finish sudoku. Still no family. It’s twenty to and Sebastian has to be at school by eight-oh-six. I will not let this get to me. I shrug, make a grocery list. Chicken legs, bagels, bananas. Non threatening firm food. Eight-oh-six? It seems arbitrary. A hold-the-curtain mentality for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
My eye falls to the table. Three breakfast plates Martha Stewart beautiful, minus toast. One plate, only orts. Ort. A crossword puzzle word. It means crumbs. Bits and pieces. Remnants. I will not get cross. I go back to my bedroom. The three of them lie there. I will not get cross. They look at me. Perturbed that I deign to interfere with their cozy moment. I will not get cross. "Michael, I’m going to the store. You’re taking Sebastian to school. You have twenty minutes. Your eggs...look like rubber vomit." Not only cross, but glib.
For some reason I start doing chores I’ve neglected. I grab the pack of Al Gore light bulbs I bought two months ago. Michael should have supported the hot breakfast in the kitchen. He broke the routine. I swap the outdoor bulbs, those in the basement. It's only fair that he be on the receiving end of Mrs. DaMate's cool kinder-teacher glare. Besides, I’m proactive. I’m changing light bulbs that will help Mother Earth. Bravo me. Doing my part to maintain a green household.
Note to self. Don't forget to get Clorox.
My children finally come to the table. One is two-year-old terrible. The other acts like sitting down and breaking bread, even though there is no bread, will snap him in two. They look at their plates. Pick up tepid sausage. Maxie nibbles. Sebastian licks. That’s breakfast. Neither touch saltless eggs. Neither ask why the butter is out when there is no toast. Two nibbles and a lick. Tomorrow, I pour them coffee.
It’s ten to and still no Michael. I keep doing chores. I pack Sebastian's lunch bag. Put away the butter that is never used. Put away the fat free half and half. Doesn’t half and half, by its very half and half nature have to be half fat? That's when it hits me. Michael didn't break the routine. I hit the snooze button. Twice. Everything takes on a patina of ruin.
Saltless eggs. Fatless half and half. Plate with orts. Table scraps. Coffee grounds. Broken shards of glass and bone. Body parts of warriors overseas. Spiritual doubt. Financial ruin. National apathy rasping our throats, darkening our lungs. Increasing unemployment. Decreasing hairline. The Christmas invite my family did not extend to me. The deep, deep hurt over a constitutional law denying me human rights. That maybe most of all. The missing tooth I keep tonguing. Just to see if I can hit the exposed nerve, relive the pain all over again. It consumes me. Morsel by morsel. I am chum. Being devoured. I might as well, with three plates of saltless eggs and nibbled and licked sausage patties as my witness, just stop. Right here. Right now.
I hear Michael. He’s finally up. He’s picking out Sebastian’s clothes, washing his face. He’s trying to get the routine back. But it’s too late. That bell has blared. Life as we once was is no more. It's over. It’s toast.
Which, of course, reminds me. We're out of bread.