I’m typing this as I look up at the sky. I’m not looking at the keyboard so I make a note to self: correct later. I just want to describe what the sky looks like at this moment. It’s pale to medium blue. There’s a cloud overhead that looks like a boned fish. It’s a mackerel sky. I remember that term from sixth grade science class when we were taught the different types of clouds like altostratus, cumulus, cumulonimbus and cirrus. My teacher, Mrs. Jensen, would be proud that is one of the few things I retained from her class.
I’m sure mackerel sky isn’t the scientific term but it works for me. I think this is my favorite sky for mornings. It’s so soft looking and it feels to me like a security blanket.
So here I sit, on the balcony of the fourth floor looking out. I do this a few times a day at work, to get perspective. There’s such a distinct difference between morning and afternoon here in my hiding place. Morning. It's a beautiful soft sky, a cool breeze and there are no people, save for the construction workers below. Everything is new and fresh and I feel privileged to enjoy it. At this time of the morning, I think about all the possibilities of how the day will go. Right now there is hope it will be a good day but I know that by afternoon when I return to this spot, I’ll be worn out, tired, and ready for the day to be over.
While the possibilities of the day ahead are long gone by afternoon, I can sit up here and drink in the sun, its rays penetrating my skin, the warmth energizing me. As I soak in the sun, I know the Vitamin D is doing its job and as a side benefit, helps improve my mood, which at this time in my life changes from one moment to the next, with little or no warning.
It’s funny how looking up at the sky always brings me back to some point in my life, some memory I have of days gone by. This morning I look up at the clouds and think of the time, in sixth grade at Miami Heights Elementary, when our class took a field trip to Vizcaya. Mom packed me a brown bag lunch and I sat at a stone table behind the mansion, overlooking the ocean. The sun was high in the mackerel sky, the breeze from the ocean cooled me.
I am also reminded of a time when I was around nine years old. I was in the car with my mother as she drove down South Dixie Highway. I sat in the backseat and looked out the window, up at the sky. It was a mackerel sky that I’ll never forget. I can’t remember where we were going, I think it was the doctor’s office, but I can tell you that I remember that sky and being in awe of the beauty of it, even to this day.
When I was a kid, I looked up at the sky and dreamed of what could be. As an adult, I looked at it and dreamt of what might’ve been. As kids, we had our whole lives ahead of us. We could do whatever we wanted because we didn’t have to be responsible. All we did was play. Now, everything’s changed.
These days, I’m learning to dream again about what could be. Looking up at this sky now, I think of all the possibilities, all the things I can do with my life, all the places I can go, all the people I can meet. I look across to the stairwell, knowing I will take those steps back down to my office any moment now. I wonder: will I be able to carry with me even a tiny fraction of the peace I’ve found up here?
Weeks ago I went through a bout of anxiety and depression. I'm in my mid-40s so now it's my turn. It was coming up to this place, this haven nobody else visits, and sitting in this old worn-out, long-forgotten yellow chair, and taking a deep breath of fresh air, watching the blue sky, listening to the birds chirp, watching the tips of the trees sway, that got me through a very difficult moment. It changed everything. When I returned to my office, I immediately opened my blinds and sunshine poured into the two large windows. And I looked up at it, closed my eyes and felt its warmth, and I knew that at that moment, I would be okay. I couldn't predict the future, but I didn't care. I was only concerned with that moment.
Below me the sound of the construction equipment is picking up and now a few people are milling about. I wonder if they looked at the sky this morning.
I sigh and stand, looking over the balcony now, closing my eyes to take another deep breath of that clean air. With a long exhale, I realize it's time to go. As I depart, I notice the rays of the sun penetrating through the white blanket of mackerel sky and I am filled with the hope that maybe today will be a good day.
—Follow Jessica Clackum on Twitter: @JessicaClackum