Wednesday, June 23, 2010

when the lights go down in the city

It was the light that sold our house to us. We climbed up the stairs behind the realtor into the hallway and were met with a softly glowing room. The last of the evening sun filled the elegant space, bringing out the honey tones of the original hardwood floors, and throwing relief onto the delicate deco plaster molding. It was inviting. Beautiful.  A light to be basked in. It felt like home. The big square bay windows framed the sun setting into the hills, and as the daylight faded to deep blue, the pinpricks of light from the houses and streetlamps of the neighbourhoods below took over the illumination, the light source inverting, minute by minute, from sky to ground.

The odd thing about this story is that I looked at this house, the house became our home, on my third date with Geekydaddy. A bit of a strange thing to do on a date, but he was house hunting so I tagged along. I didn't dare to dream, back on that day when I first stood in this lovely room, that it would one day be my home, and that this very promising boyfriend would be my husband.

It was the light that marked the passage of time during my labor with Geekyboy. Rocking through contractions in a glider chair, positioned so that I had a perfect panoramic view of the bay and bridges from the fifteenth floor of UCSF hospital, time passed and the sky slipped from azure to velvet. The beacon of the Alcatraz lighthouse swept the bay, its rhythm providing me focus. In my own world, time had a different meaning. I was surprised when night fell and the only light outside came from the houses, skyscrapers and stars. At the peak of labor, between the onslaught of contractions, I remember feeling at one with the city, amazed by my body, and so fortunate to be giving birth to a baby in this place I love so much.  Holding him on my chest just after he was born, gazing out at the glittering skyline, I whispered to him "welcome to San Francisco".

The UCSF hospital birth center has some of the best views in the world. I'd put money on it being the best view of any labour and deliver suite anywhere. If you live here it's almost worth having a baby just for the view.

This week the evening light is testing my patience. The kids sleep in that beautiful west facing room. The shape of the window means that one panel is uncurtained, so every last photon of the waning light seeps in. Bedtime has crept from seven thirty, to eight, to eight thirty. The children refuse to settle. I open the door upon hearing non sleeping sounds and they scuttle back into their beds in the way that reminds me of cockroaches in a stairwell vanishing into crevices when the lights are flicked. They have been awake almost until ten some evenings, and then of course they wake up bright and early only to grow cranky during the day due to lack of sleep.

There is nothing I love more than the view when day is turning to night, when the natural light is still holding on, but the city lights are starting to take over in prominence. Much as I hate to wish time away, I'm looking forward to when the nights start to draw in and darkness falls a little earlier.

A post for the writing workshop at 'sleep is for the week'. I chose "light".