“Uggh.” A raspy groan filters through what feels like a cotton-packed throat as the music blaring from the alarm jars me awake reminding me that I am, in fact, not dead. I struggle for consciousness and the strength to pry my eyes open, catching glimpses of smeared splotches of light and darkness. I babble something unintelligible while fumbling to turn off the alarm on my cell phone. I finally hit the right button and, as I squelch the unrelenting noise, let out a long, exasperated, “ugggghhh.”
My whole body feels heavy as I try, blearily, to push myself into an upright position on the edge of the bed. I feel my center of gravity change as the weight of my head finally settles over my shoulders and I rub my eyes.
I shift farther to the edge of the high, pillow-topped queen bed, and maneuver slowly off the mattress until my feet finally make contact with the floor. My upper half seems to finally be coming to life. My legs, however, haven’t gotten the wake up call yet and wobble awkwardly to life as I let my weight down on them and attempt stand up, grasping at the foot post for balance.
Once certain I am actually on solid ground, I look up, squinting, at the light from the bathroom. “I hate this part of the day,” I say in a rough low and virtually unrecognizable version of my voice, to no one in particular. In fact, there’s no one around to hear it anyway. My wife is up and moving and probably down the hall in the kitchen. Finally to my feet, I make an attempt to begin the exhausting trek to the shower.
I look down again at my feet, recalling the song from the old Christmas TV special about how Santa became Santa by taking that single, first step. I lift one leg and try to put ‘one foot in front of the other’ and get myself mobile.
I make my way to the bathroom in a sort of hobbling shuffle. “The bathroom needs to be closer,” I think to myself, reaching for the door facing to steady myself. “Ok, not much farther,” I mumble again. At this point in the day, the six or seven steps it takes to get to the vanity seem more like a mile-long hike.
I wheeze as I thoroughly fail to pull off the whole ‘walking’ thing, instead bumping headlong into the door facing on my fourth step. Finally, I recover my bearings and stagger into the full glow of the vanity lighting.
To me, everything is louder at that time of the morning, as if my head is in some kind of bucket. Flushing the toilet sounded like a bomb going off in a glass jar. Even my toothbrush made a sound when I slipped the toothpaste across its bristles.
I move closer to the mirror and try to get my eyes to focus better. “Wow,” I say aloud, again to no one, as I review the reflection that should be my own yet seems different than my mind’s eye recalls. Instead of a youthful, boyish image, someone has hung a frame around the portrait of some old guy.
Wrinkles, white whiskers, and weather-worn eyes now stare back at me from a once-familiar face. “Where did it go,” I say to myself, still trying to comprehend the moment. “Who is this old guy wearing my pajamas?”
Just then, my wife comes through the door and stares at me, partly amused, partly annoyed. “It’s about time,” she says, hands on her hips, yet still amused that I seem to her sometimes like a little kid who’s just been rousted up to prepare for school.
“Your alarm must have gone off five times,” she says and turns on a heel and back into the next room.
For a moment, I look at the empty space where she had been standing, then back at the mirror. “I’ve got time,” I say, smiling as I set about the mornings tasks. “I’ve got time.”