I wake up early every morning. Some mornings it’s with the alarm clock, tick-tocking by the side of my bed. Some mornings it’s with a cat who knows that I wake up early every morning, and “this is early, so why isn’t she up yet? I think I’ll wake her.” And some mornings I just wake up because my body knows that I have slept for approximately enough time.
And when I say early, I mean _early_: most mornings I’m up and taking my first sip of coffee around 4:30 in the ayem. Why, you ask? Because even 25 years later, I am still freaking out in the mornings–”oh god, I need to getup,getdressed,getpackedgetoutsideorelseIwill miss! the bus!”
Now the bus in question is the bus I rode to school every morning in Maryland from 1981 to 1987. We lived in a tiny little town called Bivalve (my mother and sister still live there), which was 24 miles from town. Usually, driving 24 miles to town takes about 30 minutes (maybe 35 if you get behind a series of farm tractors, logging trucks, or the school bus). But because of where Bivalve is, and because there is only one road that goes into and out of the “peninsula” that Bivalve sits on, the 35 minute drive takes approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes on a school bus. Which means that for a 9:00 school start time, we were on the bus every morning at 6:45. I spent more time with the bus driver (Hi Mr. Bailey!) than I did with my parents.
The other part of the story is growing up with four siblings, who also had long bus rides and 9:00 school start times. Normally, this wouldn’t be so bad, except that seven people lived in a house with one bathroom, a very small hot water heater, and a cranky water pump that must have been built by Mr. Edison himself. Couple that with the extreme sleep needs of adolescence, and you get some complicated morning routines that involved precise timing of flushings, teeth brushing, and showering. I don’t remember a time in that house ever having the bathroom completely to myself. Someone was always coming in to do something.
Missing the bus meant MAJOR difficulties, including the difficulty of waking your parents up when they’d only gotten home from shutting down the restaurant a few hours before to tell them that they had to get up, get dressed, get caffeinated, and get to driving you and your siblings to town, which, because we would be behind the school bus, would take at least an hour. Not pleasant. I can’t tell you how many times my mother looked at me with the keys in her hands, debating herself whether 14 was really too young for me to drive the car and my siblings to school myself. I know she was tempted.
Just the thought of having to wake Mom and Dad up was enough to put the fear of god in me, and I never slept past 5 ayem again. Even now, waking up when the sun is already coming up (the sun rises about 6:10 this time of year) means “ohgodI’mlateandI’mgonnamissthebus!” and instantly I am wide awake, adrenaline rushing, heart pounding, ready to start rushing to get ready.
These days I like getting up early–it’s my morning quiet time, where I get to finish my cup of coffee, knit for a while, catch up on e-mail and blogs, and even fold a load of laundry or two. I need that time now to get my head in the right place to start my day.
But just once, I’d like to sleep late.