Down the steps as quietly as possible to avoid waking roommates and sleeping landlords, and out to the car. The starting of its engine startled a skunk that scurried into a drainage hole between the house and the garage. Not so much alarmed as amused, I made a mental note to let the landlord know when I got home.
The drive to the gym was short, as always, interrupted by someone who opted to stop at a green light to pick up a passenger rather than pulling over. I threw my hands in the air and made faces into their rear-view mirror rather than shout. It was still early, and this was a residential neighborhood.
The gym was blissfully air conditioned. I swiped my new ID card in front of the scanner and saw a big yellow smiley face appear on the screen in front of the turnstile guard. "Good morning, Clay, there you go," he said as he triggered the lock that would let me through.
Tossing my bag in a locker in the locker room I dragged my bottle of water and my copy of Aristotle's Poetics to a stationary bike where I proceeded to ride for 45 minutes exactly, keeping my heart rate at around 135bpm, the optimal level for aerobic weight loss. I alternated between book, news on the TV suspended from the ceiling, and watching the people in the gym. At 5:45 in the morning, there are few people who are at the gym to show off. They're there to work out.
Exercise done, I retrieved my bag and made my way back to the house. Shower and morning prep done, I pulled on a clean, bright white shirt and a pair of grey slacks that were soft to the touch. Socks, shoes, one last check in the mirror and I was out the door.
The car pulled into the parking spot in Arlington and I stopped at the ATM, which charged me $1 to take out $20 so I could get a venti coffee frappucinno for the ride to work. On the way back to the car, I grabbed one of the myriad of free papers calling to me from their little plastic bins.
The highway moved relatively quickly. The wind tousled my thinning hair. The radio told me of things like explosions in Israel and the spreading epidemic of snakehead fish until I finally pulled into the parking lot and backed into a spot.
Now I sit here, my white slave collar forcing me to do someone else's bidding. Activities that drain the soul of creativity, and garner me nothing but a paycheck. Granted, it's an important garnering, but there is no joy in it. My soul doesn't sing out while I process government certifications or fix people's screw ups.
The time is coming closer and closer when will I need to leave this grown up world and drown myself in blissful creativity.
But until then, I masquerade with my slave collar of white cotton, and I do its bidding until I can be free.
I feel so... professional today. It makes me sad.