Mornings


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I went to bed early last night, which is something I only do when I could really use some extra sleep. It was a good plan and an honest attempt to take better care of my body. But at 12:45 a.m., I jolted awake to the sound of my downstairs neighbors drilling.

That’s not a euphemism. My neighbors started using a power tool well after midnight.

I lay in bed, irritated and unhappy, but after a minute or two, the sound passed, so I settled back into my pillow and blankets. Moments later, the noise started up again.

My next instinct was passive-aggressive. I wanted to rap something — my knuckles, the broom handle, anything — on my floor. I fantasized about creeping downstairs and taping a note to the neighbors’ door: “Welcome to the building! Just so you know, other people can hear you through the walls, floor, and ceiling.”

Because that’s the thing about my noisy downstairs neighbors. It was their first night sleeping in the apartment building. I had seen their moving truck near the parking garage earlier in the day, had even shared an elevator with some of their furniture. But I hadn’t met my neighbors in the flesh.

So what did I end up doing about the noise? Nothing at all. And finally, the drill stopped for good. I tried to think generous thoughts, things like, "Maybe they bought a new bed at IKEA, and they didn't have time to assemble it earlier."

I went back to sleep.

When my alarm sounded off, partway through the six o’clock hour, I stayed in bed for longer than I should have. I blamed my sleepiness on the drill, told myself that my neighbors were at fault for the slow start to my day. Eventually, I got up, showered, and stumbled into the kitchen. I pulled a loaf of bread out of a cupboard, inspected it for mold with bleary eyes, and popped two slices into the toaster.

The toast finished, I slathered it with strawberry jam. I chewed my first piece, if not enthusiastically, at least contentedly — until I spotted a dark-green circle on the bottom edge of the bread.

I was so exhausted that my mold inspection hadn’t been exhaustive.

--

I am not a morning person. Maybe it’s because my mornings sometimes go the way they did today: formation of grudges against neighbors I’ve never met, unwillingness to tear my body out of bed, discovery that I’m eating moldy toast. None of those things endear me to the earliest hours of the day.

But I also know that I’m not being fair. Definitionally, the hum of the drill at 12:45 a.m. might not even count as part of my morning. (What is the morning? Is it the 12 hours between midnight and noon? Is it the moment that our eyes open after an extended period of nighttime sleep? By either of those definitions, sure, 12:45 a.m. was part of my morning. Or, if the morning begins with our earliest experience of the day, then waking up to the sound of the drill was a matinal moment by that definition too. But if the morning actually starts when we open our eyes and keep them open for hours and hours on end, then the story about my new neighbors doesn’t even belong in this essay.)

Also, things can go wrong at any time of the day. Getting a sunburn? Usually happens in the afternoon. Missing the last train home? Only happens in the evening. Realizing you’re out of milk or toilet paper after the store has closed? Always happens late at night.

But no one ever says, “I’m not an afternoon person.” No one complains about evenings. No one categorically hates nighttime.

We print the words “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” on mugs, lumping mornings into the same category as Mondays (of “I hate Mondays” tee-shirt fame).

Maybe the idea that mornings have to suck is completely arbitrary. But maybe I’m not quite ready to accept that.

--

Late this morning, hours after the noise of the power tool had stopped, and the act of forcing myself out of bed was over, and the detection of mold on my half-eaten toast was behind me, things started to look up. I made it through my classes. I ran two errands that I’d been putting off, which took much less time than I had feared.

Sometime today, I might bump into my new neighbors in the elevator. If I do, I’ll smile and introduce myself and ask for their names. It’s hard to hold a grudge for a one-time offense, especially now that I’m fully awake.

Let the record show that my day hasn’t been half-bad.

But make sure that the record shows that I’m still not a fan of mornings.
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