I pull back the cool bed sheets and climb out of bed. My feet sink into the carpet and the floor creaks under every step but the fear of waking my parents is drowned out by the relaxed and calm atmosphere. The light breeze whispers through my window and my curtains flutter to a song only they used to know. Now, my mind recognizes the song too and it dances along, never stopping to take a breath.
It took me a long time to find the right definition for the word peace. Only now, after years of unconscious searching, have I found it.
Sitting down on the reading ledge next to my window, I pull my feet up and toss a light blanket over them before reaching for my phone which was sitting on my desk. In my hands now, the cracked screen lights up and a picture of my cat appears. Swiping up, I unlock the phone and click on Spotify, my favorite music app.
At first, I’m not sure what song or playlist to click on so I sit there in silence and just listen to the nighttime sounds from outside. The sky is without a single cloud, letting the stars shine bright and the moon show clearly. Looking out across the front yard, I can see the silhouettes of fences and trees. The garage’s small nighttime light only plays on the stones of the driveway and doesn’t reach out to the grassy yard, which I know desperately needs mowed.
I consider climbing back into bed, I do have field hockey practice tomorrow morning, but the crickets and stars tell me I don’t want to miss this. Hearing those words as I talk to myself in my head, I click the search bar in Spotify and look up a song, one very fitting for the moment. Clicking the volume from silent to only one notch, I let the music flow from the phone and swirl across the room.
“Peace”, my best friend once told me, “is sitting by the fireplace on a cold winter day and drinking hot chocolate and listening to music. And probably sitting there with family too. And friends.”
She’d said this in the middle of summer, when the temperature had reached its peak. My only guess for her answer is she wanted winter to come so she could cool off. While I could agree with her in that moment, I couldn’t agree now. Peace had filled my bedroom and even though the sun had dipped below the horizon hours ago, the moon was here to bring me joy.
Like it always did, my mind drifted and I couldn’t help but wonder what other people were doing at that exact moment. In books, a character up at two in the morning would normally have a pretty good reason for it. One book I’d read years ago told the story of a nineteen year old who’s dad was abusive and would wake her and her siblings up in the middle of the night. In another book, the main character would only be up at this time if bombs were falling. Yet another book would have anxiety, fear, or depression keeping the character awake. And I was awake because my life felt perfect on July twelfth at two o’clock in the morning.
Suddenly, I no longer felt completely calm. Picturing bombs and guns and fists and yelling mouths and rushing thoughts hadn’t settled well with me. Why should I be allowed to sit here and stare out the window of my structurally sound house when other people don't have a home or a window or a safe place to sleep? Why was this world so cruel?
Before I could completely lose my mind, I jumped up and grabbed my journal and favorite pen. Questions filled the page, questions that will probably never be answered, questions that can’t be answered.
Where does hatred come from?
What truly is good vs evil?
How do we know right from wrong?
How do people’s brains lead them astray?
Why is the world so painful?
Why are we judged for things we can’t help?
Why do horrible diseases exist?
How can personalities and moods change in an instant?
What is a true friend?
What does true love feel like?
What is true love?
Does life send up symbols or signs?
How can we tell a symbol/sign from ordinary things?
How do we know what a symbol/sign is supposed to symbolize/mean?
What is life?
What is death?
What is love, grace, faith, mercy, hope?
The questions kept coming. I’d filled two pages with them until I felt exhausted. The night air felt cooler than it had before. I shifted position and pulled the blanket over my legs and arms. Restless but suddenly not so at peace with the world, I fell into a different world, a world of dreams.
When I woke, it was to the sound of a rooster crowing. Looking out through the window, I could see the moon had disappeared and the sky was starting to brighten. I threw the blanket off, too hot to want it, and stood up on wobbly legs to see the time. My phone, which I had placed back on my desk, was still playing music. Turning off the music, I watched the time turn from 6:32 to 6:33.
The window on the opposite side of my room displayed a wonderful sunrise. Peering out, I saw brush strokes of pink and orange slowly getting bigger and brighter by the minute. They spread up into the sky, making the clouds that had appeared overnight seem like puffs of cotton candy. The whole sunrise was filling dark corners with light and finding beauty where there normally wasn’t any.
And then it faded. The sky shaped itself to look like an everyday, summer sky with white clouds in streaks too long for my eyes to follow. The light shone on the green of the tree leaves and orange of the marigolds in the flower bed. The rooster continued to crow, inviting the sun to show its face and not just its light. And it did. The sun brought blinding light over the horizon and with it, life to the sleepers.
I stood at that other window, for what seemed like hours, until the sun was fully visible and forming shadows with the trees. The birds had come out to sing their songs and the sheep had gone out for an early breakfast.
I headed downstairs for my breakfast, my stomach telling me I was already late. Through the kitchen windows, I could still see the dew on the grass and the common blue violets opening their flowers.
“Good morning”, my dad said. “Did you sleep well?”
I shrugged and went with the honest answer. “I slept on my reading ledge and only got about four hours of sleep, but yeah.”
“Of course you did”, he responded, but there was a smile on his face. “I’m making pancakes soon but then we should go do the chores.”
After pancakes and conversation, I stepped into the mudroom, pulled on my muck boots, and grabbed the water bucket. The familiarity of the everyday steps was comforting. But nothing was better than pulling open that door and stepping into the sunshine.