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