Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, 6:59 am, Aug. 21, 2017.

The sky is a blueish-gray. The sun is debating how quickly to rise in the cool, somber sky as the peacefulness of twilight arrives. The quietness of the early morning is peaceful and relaxing and I long to remain in this moment.

The silence is broken by the waking birds, gently chirping at each other to rise and begin their day. My cats’ tails thump against the wall just below the window sill. They listen to the stirring of the animals who are about to begin their day. If they could, the cats would be outside attacking any moving thing they could see.

Harvey and Londo take solace in terrorizing Miller moths in the house. Stealthily, as all cats do, they stalk their prey before trapping it between their paws and the window pane. Harvey brings the moth to his mouth, but the moth flutters in desperation to escape. Harvey lets it go.

Londo watches the moth try to fly away, but it hit the window in a muted thud. He takes the opportunity to capture his flying prey and earns himself a morning snack before breakfast.

Harvey and Londo stretch out on the back of the couch and settle in to the moment in between.

It is in that moment of perfect solitude I wish I could stay. The stress, the PTSD, the depression, the anxiety, and the rage melt away. That single moment provides a brief period of clarity to my life and my sole desire is to remain there as long as I can. It is all I have ever wanted.

But the harshness of reality, its responsibilities, and the lifetime of pain and anguish always return. My mind begins its necessary stirring, whirring, and churning to keep the flashbacks and memories at bay.

The sound of the coal train enters the fray. Its horn can be heard for miles. The sound riles the local animals as if their calm, too, had been interrupted.

As the day draws on, the birds continue to chirp, but not as often as just after sunrise. Their warbling are louder, shorter, more trill. It hurts my ears and damages my calm. I find myself yearning for those moments in between. There is a poignant peacefulness in the time between when the creatures of the night settle down for their slumber and the creatures at rest begin to stir.

The birds chirp louder. The cats look at me as if to ask for help, for permission to silence the caroling vibrating through my home. I contemplate allowing it to happen, solely for my selfish need of solitude.

Instead, I let the day play out like it always does. I know the sounds of people, their breathing, their movements, their booming, echoing vocal chords squawk and reverberate until a trigger arrives.

The stench of the neighbor’s cigarettes wafting in the air and the screaming of young neighbor kids will encroach on my silent, solitary seclusion.

Each day, this perfect moment in between is transitory. I have been chasing its permanence my entire life. It is the only time I have ever felt I could honestly be me, be genuinely in harmony with the universe. It is the single place I ever wish to be.

All of my travels have always had this underlying pursuit of a permanence of this tranquility. And, yet, I don’t think I will ever be able to find it, except in those moments in between, before the sun rises and modernity creeps in.

It is I who must adapt and find ways to cope and survive in the harshness of a cruel world in which I never felt I fit in. The moments I rest in the in between provide the solace to carry on.