It’s chilly and dark. When the alarm went off a little while ago, grabbing my sleeping self and tearing it up by the roots, I wasn’t smiling. But I love the morning. It’s worth that calculated violence to be up before the sun. I think more clearly, I get more done — most of all, I get to lay claim to the day before the squatters arrive, in person and by phone, pitching their tents and inviting me in for coffee and a smoke. I love them — at least, most of them — but solitude is necessary for writing and thinking; I need to become dead to the world so something can be born. Otherwise, I end up being clever rather than creative.

But more regularly and perversely than any friend, it’s me who intrudes on my solitude. My desires, like traffic cops, direct me this way and that. Seated behind the wheel, beeping the horn and fiddling with the dial, I convince myself it’s more fun to be out for a spin than home alone. I’m just gullible.

But not so in the morning. Maybe my dream self circled the block enough times, or just ran out of gas. Whatever the reason, I’m better able to understand how aloneness is a ledge, and how it’s my choice to drop into loneliness, or fall deeper into who I am.

I take myself up like a tool, working my heart with my hands, until my hands grow stronger. My trying lights up my day, like the sun now lighting the sky. With hands that have touched my own hard earth, I can shake hands, and mean it. . . .

And there was the first phone call.