Saturday, August 29, 2015


I got out of bed a couple days after Angela and Vito had returned from Italy, and Vito told me that he woke up early. "I watched the sunrise for a little bit, and then played with Legos," he said, as if it were the most usual order of events in the world. Sunrise was around 5AM, and we had been up quite late the night before, so I was surprised that he woke up at such an early hour. "Everything was orange," he added, "even the living room."

I was even more astonished that he was wowed enough by a new day dawning to make it the first thing he commented about to me that morning. A defense of his behavior, perhaps, which he may have thought broke some unwritten rule. If it became a regular habit, it might pose some problems, but this was a singular incident. How did our son, new romantic observer of the morning light spectrum, arrive to this? There's certainly nothing wrong with it, but what made him do it? I tried to recall other instances.

Did it start when Vito was four and we all went camping in Death Valley National Park? On our last morning, we woke up and dressed in our little three-person tent in the frigid desert darkness and then drove to Zabriskie Point so we could watch the sunrise over the valley, a recommended sight, and well worth the effort. There were only a handful of people around, and the sunrise seemed to last even longer as its rays painted the snow-tipped mountains on the other side of the valley. Had we enjoyed any other family sunrise gazings before then? Had it left such a lasting impression?

These days, we travel by air dozens of times each year. On planes, a habitual window-shade opener and closer, he must have also seen, going or coming, the extended sunrise outside a plane window at one time or another. He has probably logged more air miles than most people accrue in their entire lives. In any case, such a memory, perhaps, remains undocumented. Surely, the seed had been planted somewhere. It is possible that it is simply a new interest and nothing more. The budding romantic. As a poet and self-styled cloud monger, to steal a moniker from Baudelaire, I couldn't be more proud. Still, I wondered.

Moving forward a few years, in December, when were were traveling in Cambodia, we woke up early to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat with the scads of tourists that flocked there for the same purpose. He didn't complain about being roused from sleep at a frightening hour, but accepted the whim as part and parcel. Then, a few days later, while we were on Koh Rong Island and up all night nursing illnesses, we lucked into watching another sunset break across the sea from the veranda of our bungalow. It was quiet and spectacular and slow and then it was just morning. We paid in sleep deprivation. What was the reward?

Finally, most recently, while we were in Italy vacationing with two neices a nephew and my mother-in-law, we woke up one morning to watch the sunrise. Vito's cousin, Alessandro, joined us on the villa's tiled patio. What magic was working on them as they stared out across the water? Will we do it again? Surely, there is a promise in all of this.

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