Being a morning person isn’t something I am on purpose. I can’t help it. Like my parents before me, I’ve long known the secret of getting a jump on the day; of savoring that slice of “me” pie before sharing the daily banquet with everyone else. It’s kind of nice starting with a smackeral of dessert before the main course is served; a reality more precious than depicted in coffee commercials. Besides, those of us born with the wake-with-the-light gene don’t especially need caffeine to get going. It just happens.
My favorite teacher in high school, the bubbly Sr. Judith, would understand. I recall one of her sister Sisters rolling her eyes with unconcealed chagrin when one of my classmates asked if Sr. Judith was always “like that.” “Even in the mornings,” was the immediate response. I feigned mild disgust, anxious to fit in with my fellow teens, but in fact, saw nothing particularly wrong with a touch of ante meridiem chirpiness.
While country living was made for people like me, we worshipers of the dawn find ourselves in a very interesting predicament in more cosmopolitan settings. When they say “New York’s the City That Never Sleeps,” don’t believe it for a New York Minute. If you happen to hit the sidewalk at about 7 a.m. on a Sunday, the town is yours. You can bask in your own “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” moment pretty much anywhere in the five boroughs — but good luck getting much legitimate business done before 10 or 11. But that’s ok. My time in the Big Apple added to the many lessons in self-sufficiency I’ve picked up while the rest of the world slumbers on.
There are, of course, downsides to being an early riser.
I married a New Yorker, a night owl by both nature and nurture. In our newlywed days most Saturdays I’d be up, showered, dressed, finished my weekly phone conversation with my mother, and cleaned our entire one bedroom apartment long before my husband even considered stirring. Come midnight, he’d just be hitting his stride and the only thing I’d want to hit was the hay.
Then there are the times in our lives where necessity trumps inclination. For 10 years I did most of my “day job” at night. At 9:30 or 10 p.m. with the kids tucked into bed, I’d allow myself a quick power nap before beginning the bulk of my work. The schedule afforded me more daytime Mommy availability, but that flexibility didn’t come free. No matter how late I may have been working, once the sun was up, so was I. Living on a steady diet of four or five hours of sleep Mondays through Thursdays extracted a toll I’m still paying a decade after returning to mostly normal business hours. Traces of burning the candle at both ends burn-out persist and have become a permanent part of me.
Throughout my life, I’ve bumped into other morning folk. We tell many of the same stories — hardly ever needing an alarm clock; getting our best work done before lunch; a high level of alertness while all around us are fumbling for consciousness; how much we annoy still sleepy family and friends with our ability to talk cogently — often cheerfully — even after a late night. Our natural propensity sets us apart from many of our fellow humans and leaves us open to the interesting quandary: If the early bird gets the worm, is that really the most appealing way to start the day?
My answer: Works for me. I understand the little wigglers are full of protein.
Susan Writer enjoys sunrises from her Woodsboro home, pens a regular column for fredericknewspost.com and is one of The Frederick News-Post’s Board of Contributors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.