I wake up and I t’s dark, a rather disorienting blanket still covering me. How unnatural it is to wake up when you feel you should be sleeping. Struck with a conflicted feeling of being simultaneously grateful and hateful for the extended light that I will have today because in this moment, all I can think about is that without sun, nobody should have to be awake and trying to begin their day.
My wife has one of those projector clocks, the one that reminds you immediately, laser beams across the ceiling, upon opening your eyes that you were either waking up way too early, or late enough that there’s no point in trying to go back to sleep.
See option two: today the clock said 6:13. My alarm goes off at 6:15.
I rollover, as gently as possible. Owning one of those mattresses that doesn’t transfer movement, I turn smoothly but carefully. My four-year-old has an arm, a leg, and a teddy bear all slung halfway across my body. It’s these moments that I like to hang onto, but the day calls. There’s somewhere to be, there’s someone to provide for, and there’s a whole day ahead of me that I have not yet accepted I have to live.
My clothes wait for me in the bathroom, draped over the shower rod. Taking them out the night before, I avoid the extra five minutes it would take me to select what to wear in the morning. Scratch that; it would take an extra 15 minutes. I’m indecisive. Selecting clothing is tantamount to making a major life choice. Any choice, really, is painstaking. Did I mention it’s still dark?
Tiptoeing through the quiet darkness of the house, I slink through the early morning, a ninja-in-training, careful not to stir even a mouse. In this case, my mouse is a fluffy, black-and-white, and about 50 pounds. My seven-month-old Sheepadoodle sleeps in her crate in the living room. Even worse than waking the child right now would be disturbing her. If she’s awake, everyone’s awake.
Some people appreciate the wee hours of the morning, the fleeting minutes they have for just themselves. They take their coffee and newspaper at the kitchen table while others catch up on “correspondence.” Never have I ever felt that these moments are special. They are just that, minutes. I have reduced my schedule to allow me approximately 10 efficiency-demanding minutes to get ready in the morning and get out of the house. It’s either a mere 10 minutes, or I sleep less. In my life, Sleep is at a premium, so whatever I can do to extend that time period, is welcomed. Regardless, I will arrive to work bleary-eyed, with just enough blue and purple beneath my eyes to show that I haven’t recovered from the four years since the birth of my child.
He’s not always to blame. Sometimes my wife and I actually have a conversation over a glass or two or a bottle of wine at night in which case, waking up at any hour is unpleasant. No matter. I shake it off and continue my crawl to the restroom where the first part of my routine still awaits.
I don’t turn on the light. I barely close the door. That would make noise. Noise wakes people. People who wake up not ready to be awakened are generally unhappy and unpleasant. That’s me, unhappy and unpleasant and awake.
Oh – and just to be clear: I have a toddler and teach middle school and I don’t drink coffee. Never have.
95% of my days, i’m awake without any prompting other than biology. What’s the point of an alarm when my body has a natural alarm clock
I’m that guy who has dreams, has hellish nightmares really, about being late. Never having anywhere special to go or anything worth anticipating, ironically, I have this overwhelming anxiety about being tardy to the party. That is so ingrained in my humanity that I get that you’re-going -to-be-late dream at least once a week. Sometimes more. Inevitably, I wake approximately two or three minutes before my alarm goes off.
Damn you, nature. I could’ve use that two minutes. I would’ve treasured them.
Getting dressed is a fairly silent activity. Who makes a lot of noise when putting on socks and pants? It is not until I make my way out of the restroom in the morning that I then contemplate where to put my shoes on. I don’t worry about packing my bag, everything is ready to go from the night before. Again, I’m obsessed with saving time. I’m efficient. Obsessively so.
I’ll put the shoes on right before I walk out the door. That’s a good idea.
The dog is snoozing in her crate. Luckily her face is towards the other direction and maybe she won’t sense me. Wandering through the kitchen, I cautiously, oh so cautiously open the refrigerator door. Extracting my food for the day, I crawl my way back across the tile to grab my things. Taking a deep breath – a very deep one – because I’m going to hold it until I exit the house.
Towards the door I go. The first door is our front door, heavy and secure. It almost forms of suction every time it is closed so I know there will be noise when I go to open it. Still holding my breath, I begin to turn the knob. Slowly, my fingers wrapped themselves around the knob. While balancing all of my materials, work bag, keys, lunch, anything extra that I need to take with me to work, I hear the first creek. I inhale more deeply. It’s almost a gasp. The door opens fully, as if in apology for making a sound, as I reach for the second door, the security door that will eventually lead me outside. Metallic as it is, it is relatively quiet. Releasing the lock and grasping the handle, I simultaneously hang onto the front door, making sure to slowly close that one while squeezing as neatly as I can between the next.
When I close the front door, I exhale, and my lungs burn, a tiny fire turned to ash. I’ve made it this far, but my morning escape is incomplete.
Not out of the danger zone, I need my sneak my way into the car. The remote makes a beeping sound whenever my door is unlocked, so in order to reduce the amount of beeps, I only press it once, opening only the driver’s door. This way, I can slide all my things into the passenger seat and only have to close one door, that’s only making one sound. Ridiculous? Maybe. In order to be a ninja, however, I need to make it out completely unscathed and inconspicuously.
My bedroom window faces our driveway and consequently, my car’s engine faces our bedroom window. Holding my breath again, fingers fumble for the ignition, turn it as quickly as possible, and start the car. What happens next: foot on the brake, release of parking brake, transmission in gear. I roll out the driveway.
My success is gauged based on whether or not I see tiny finger is parting the blinds in my bedroom. If not, I have made it out without waking anybody.
This folks, is how I gauge success at 6:30 in the morning.
Maybe I should start drinking coffee.
3 thoughts on “In Response To: Quiet Mornings”
Joseph, you turned the ordinary occurrence into a highly visual slice.
Thank you. Always looking for the right moment.
As a morning person, I appreciate hearing your perspective and routine. I am like you at night. I go to bed early because “In my life, Sleep is at a premium, so whatever I can do to extend that time period, is welcomed. ” Two sides of the same coin.