...are when you wake up before the sun and immediately can't hold back the massive grin that wells up in your chest and spills out onto your face. September lies sleeping, red curls tossed on the pillow, in the big bed you share - almost as big as the bedroom, with just a few feet of space to tiptoe out and close the door - quickly, so it doesn't squeak.

Fill the kettle. Turn on the gas stove and light a match from the box you bought all by yourself in the little tienda on the corner with the first complete original sentences you've ever spoken en español ("Disculpe, seño; busco los fósforos. Y necessito una bolsa por huevos, por fa!"). Wait. It's good for you. Just before the kettle squeals, pour the water into a cup you've readied with a thick slice of bitter lemon that the boys shook down from the tree in the courtyard the other day

The rooftop is cold, but the blanket and hot bitter-sour lemon-water helps, and the sight of the newborn day glowing behind the crown of still-dark volcanoes surrounding the city lights such a spark in the deep heart's core that you wonder how you can stay whole and unburned from the fierce and unexpected love of this place.

sunrise over the volcanoes

The sun shoots up faster than you'd think, warming the tiles of the terrace so that the smooth shaded ones of the kitchen floor are a welcome respite: cool water poured over the soles of your feet. Half-moons of onion sizzle and soften in the pan while you dice the potatoes in healthy chunks and wonder if two pounds of bacon (dos libras de tocino!) will be enough. The buzzer at the courtyard door sounds - the trickle has started.

Someone plays a G chord - it always starts with G - and then each new instrument and voice joins in and falls out for the next many hours. People take breaks to grab another plate of hashbrowns and eggs, or pour cream and whiskey into stovetop cowboy-coffee and sip gingerly to avoid the grounds. Brunch becomes lunch becomes tea becomes supper, and still the music flows on over and around and through you.

music on the porch

image credit: Eli Gordon

The trickle slows, and turns back on itself. Everyone embraces for long moments, kissing each other's faces and mouths like we're leaving in all different directions on possibly endless new adventures instead of meeting again in Cafe No Sé in an hour or two. The sun sinks slower than it rose, and there's time to rinse the dishes before slipping on a dress, slinging the instrument of choice over your shoulder, and heading out into the ashy dusk. The night is young and long, and the big bed welcoming at any hour.

And then you wake up and do it all over again.