As balance settled inescapably in old Mr. Me and My Linh and Lily’s little universe, on a remote beach in an always warm southeastern Asian country, slowly, slowly, our habits changed. For example, as weeks and months passed by, after a while May Linh and Lily – who were by contract living in the nude with me – would eventually have both their periods at the same time, to the day, almost to the minute.
And that would be the signal of their departure for a week, when they’d take their days off. I don’t think they could do this on purpose, it just so happens when the universe is looking for balance. It affected me as well. I had always – I mean always – been a getting up late and going to sleep late kind of guy. I remember when I was a kid my mother would get up early in the morning to prepare for work and for school and she would find me still awake, in bed, reading. I had been reading all night long and she would bitch.
So, like everyone going to school I guess, I had to get up early. And I remember how I had to go to school in the morning, it was still dark and cold and raining and I could feel the cold water seeping through my neck and by the time I’d get to school I was soaked and pissed. Back then, it’d take hours for the clothes to dry in those hardly heated classrooms. And in the evening, having to walk home in the dark again and be soaked again.
I hated it. I’m sure that if school would have been from noon to 8pm every day, I would have never had problems with school and maybe I’d have an academic career. Anyway, I know also that, after having gotten up early for work – construction work – for many years, when I totally changed my line of work, it had more than anything to do with being able to sleep late most mornings and going to sleep late at night.
How many time did I hear people reproach me – even people I loved, friends, family – about not having ‘normal hours’? Fuck, I wasn’t hurting anyone and earning my living and owing nothing to nobody so I figured I could sleep and go to bed at the time that was best for me, even in a medical way I’m sure.
It remained that I still had to get up early enough to function a minimum when I was with people in a ‘normal’ society – whether in Paris, Shanghai or Chicago or Mexico or New Orleans or where ever the fuck I was – even if I stretched the days the most I could. In fact part of my idea to come here in the first place and live the life of a recluse, a hermit almost, was just so I could sleep according to the rhythm I like, MY rhythm.
Guess what, as our microcosm was searching for balance, I slowly started to spend less and less time alone on my porch in the middle of the night and going to bed earlier than before, if only often just to scratch Lily to sleep with May Linh. And, once there, I wouldn’t get up again. And so it went, a tiny little bit of a difference every day, and after weeks and months I realized I was going to bed a lot earlier than before and thus I was getting up earlier and earlier as well. And that was a big change. The impetus for balance is in itself a source of surprise.
Indeed, it changed part of my vision of our life in my shotgun house by the ocean, not only the vision but the way I felt it. For example, waking up earlier, I got a better understanding of May Linh and Lily’s rhythms. May Linh was the first one up. Before, when I was fast asleep, probably snoring hard because of the beer and cigarettes, I had no idea how May Linh and Lily would get up and I knew nothing about it.
Now I could tell, even if still half asleep, when May Linh was waking and getting up. Then I wouldn’t hear anything and I know now that the first thing she did in the morning was her Tai Chi or yoga or Kung Fu or whatever.
Once, I felt she was getting up and I woke up and realized I needed to take a leak. I was going to go outside through the front porch not to wake up Lily when I saw May Linh on the beach. She was facing the ocean, totally nude, basking in the early sun and doing her Tai Chi exercises. So I stayed on the porch and kind of hid from her, not to disturb her. And I looked at her and it was just beautiful, I don’t know if there is a better word to describe the scene. Then she made another series of moves and I could see again how limber she was; I mean, in another life, she must have been a contortionist or something. No wonder she could swim and dive like a natural born mermaid!
And I felt all of a sudden that she knew I was there watching her, gawking at her back and ass. I just knew that she knew and that she let me know that she knew. Without turning her head once. It didn’t affect her a bit. May Linh doesn’t talk much but it is because she doesn’t need too, because with some people she can just communicate directly, without words, like now with me. I’m sure that’s how May Linh ‘talks’ with Lily as well and I’m sure Lily is ten times more receptive than I’ll ever be to May Linh’s mind waves. Anyway, that day, I finally took a leak on the dune, up the back porch, and went back to bed.
And Lily was still in it.
In fact, in my new morning awareness, I understood later that Lily would get up only after May Linh was done with her exercises and they would meet in the kitchen and I would soon be smelling the coffee.
So now, when I would feel May Linh getting up to go to the beach, I’d do like Lily, that is waiting in bed for May Linh to be done and leaving her alone. And there was Lily and Lily’s warm body and I would reach for her, occupying the still warm spot where May Linh sleeps. And I would love myself against Lily – that was new – until we’d both find a comfortable position and sometimes we’d go back to sleep together.
On occasions, we had this way a sleepy morning lazy gamahuche. Since old Mr. Me was waking up earlier, I also rediscovered the morning hard on, after fifteen years or so not even thinking about it. So, once in a while, Lily and I went further than just a gamahuche and my splendid morning hard on would end up in her butt. Lily seemed to always be ready for those. After those, I would really go back to sleep and I’d wake up much later.
Then again, old Mr. Me is no King Kong anymore and, on most days, I’d be dozing but I could feel when Lily was getting up. So, I would remain a little bit longer in bed, in her warm spot, but would soon get up as well.
Thus, my days were starting a lot earlier than before and finishing earlier too. That didn’t keep the rest of the day to go about the same every day. But getting up in the morning, I also saw how much work May Linh and Lily were doing all day, in the garden first then diving for food, then May Linh playing her piano and Lily learning America by heart, then the cooking and some cleaning, plus the Bundy pause, their days were going fast.
And I realized that I was sitting outside on the front porch most of the time, and I was swimming and eating and taking a shit and getting massages and fucking and sleeping. In short, I was the only one doing nothing, other than ogling them and never tiring of it.
Really, wasn’t that exactly what I wanted? Yes, but my days were going so fast too, I couldn’t even count them.
So waking up early, in those circumstances, was a true discovery. And that’s how, slowly, slowly, our three orbits came to fall into an all inclusive balance.
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Iconography: Drawing by Daniel Peci