Before Sunrise

“But I promise the coffee tastes better before the sun comes up.”*

*Me, today. In an actual conversation with an actual human.

It’s been years now… three years and change, anyway… that I have been, more often than not, waking up before sunrise. If you didn’t already know, I worked about a dozen years on the graveyard shift. That means sleeping in the daytime, like a drunk vampire. Sleep-deprived. Most of the time as an on-call delivery person. Then, one final year isolated in a warehouse from 5:30 pm to 7:00 am, left to scurry home between the shadows, hoping direct sunlight couldn’t catch my hair on fire before my head hit the pillow.

In time, I convinced myself that I did my best writing, best living, between the hours of dark and light. That I got my writerly brood on after midnight. Told myself that I could barely function in the daylight, and I was just living in both worlds because I couldn’t convince enough people to come join me in the neon and fluorescence.

Then I quit that job.

And soon after, my whole life crashed.

Until I found the one thing a vampire can’t understand.

Welcoming the sunrise.

Move the calendar ahead three years. Looking where I had come from. Looking where I assumed I was headed. The loss of another, much better, job. The open-ended loss of autonomy in a pandemic. Finally, cancer. And through it all, one, and only one, thing stayed the same.

A single cup of black coffee before sunrise.

All the way back three years before, even after those dozen years in the dark, my body went from undead to alive in the daylight. Regulated itself, almost immediately, into existence at the beginning of every day, not the end. Yeah, even on weekends. Woke up without an alarm. Fell asleep without forcing myself to end each day dreading the next day, because each next day began of its own free will, with coffee in my hands and quiet outside my window. Ultimately, even after the time between August and November and the shitstorm of a dumpster fire life kinda became in The Summer of Cancer, most days were still about beginning them as I came anticipate more than any other thing.

The sound of a coffee maker. The joy in the silence before the noise to come. The beauty of a new day. And the promise of how much better the coffee tastes before sunrise.

Prove me wrong.

(c) copyright 2020 William S. Friday

12 thoughts on “Before Sunrise

  1. For the longest time I thought I was a night owl, but then when my husband was working 2nd shift for awhile while we were living with family I discovered that I wasn’t as big of a night owl as I thought I was. Being forced to wait until after 5:30am to get ready for bed was hell. Then he got a new, better job and our schedule got flipped upside down and we were now going to have to get up when we were once going to bed. The transition was… interesting.
    We recently bought our own place, but I’m still living on his work schedule because we sleep on a murphy bed in the middle of our living room area. We haven’t figured out a way that I could stay up later than him without it being disruptive yet. I at least don’t have to get up when his alarm goes off at 4:45, I stay in bed and snooze until he leaves for the day around 6. I hate to admit it, but I think I might actually be turning into a bit of a morning person. I find myself waking up early even on the weekends. And you are right, my coffee does taste better earlier in the morning.☕

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I find myself enjoying the quiet before the sun had truly risen and I wonder what the hell happened. I think part of it is that I cannot be trusted to decide my own bedtime, once that decision was taken out of my hands by life circumstances my body (with the help of some medications to help keep my extreme anxiety at bay) got itself into a more normal rhythm. Realizing that I’m autistic also explained why I should not be allowed to set my own sleep schedule, because my executive functioning skills *suck*.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Usually I still find myself falling asleep an hour or so before sunrise. I prefer to witness sunsets. The joy of the silence after the world has gone asleep, yes. The joy of silence, yes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never really been a coffee drinker, but I did work the graveyard shift for a bunch of years, in different place. What I’ve learned about myself is that while I’m a night person, I’m not an all-night person. Left to my own devices, I’ll usually wind down around 2am. I’m happiest waking up between 9 and 10 in the morning, even though I always feel like I’m losing time.

    Coffee isn’t my friend though. I suppose I would at least agree that hot cocoa tastes better at night than in the morning.

    Liked by 1 person

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