Op/Ed

Jessie Raymond: Summer and the fear of sleeping in

I am what some people would describe as a “morning person.”
That’s a stretch.
The phrase implies that I wake up early, spring out of bed and immediately begin singing, relishing another day on this beautiful planet while scrubbing the baseboards with a toothbrush.
It’s true that I wake up early, but that’s as far as it goes. I spend most of my first hour blinking at the kitchen walls, trying to recall where we keep the coffeemaker. I get up early not because I’m eager to do things, but because I need the lead time; it takes me a good half-hour to remember what day it is.
I cemented my early-rising habit when the kids were little, as a defense mechanism. I felt I needed to get up before they did to be prepared to carry on philosophical conversations the moment their eyes snapped open. If you’d ever had a three-year-old with a speech impediment start his day by asking you to weigh in on whether a giraffe could fly if it had wings, and whether it would be called “Pegasus” or something else, you’d understand.
The idea, true or not, that getting up early somehow makes me better prepared to face the day has stuck with me. But at this time of year, as we march toward the summer solstice, I struggle. I rarely sleep past six, even in deep winter, and now that it’s getting light by five, I feel like I’m oversleeping. I crave the cover of darkness to give me a block of much-needed unproductive time.
When the sun is up before I’ve had my coffee, I get the nagging sense that I’m late, though I can’t articulate what for. Rather than slump at the kitchen table and wait for my brain to uncrumple naturally, I find myself pressed to catch up with the day, even if it hasn’t technically begun.
And on the rare occasions when I convince myself that sleeping until seven on a Saturday will not ruin my weekend, I’m generally proven wrong.
Take, for instance, the last time I “slept in.” A police cruiser pulled into the driveway just after sunrise, causing the dog to bark himself into a nervous breakdown and making Mark and me bolt outside in a panic, blearily confessing to whatever crimes the officers were about to charge us with. (It turned out the cows had escaped and were wandering in the road. We weren’t even brought in for questioning.)
I lack the enthusiasm, the optimism, the joie de vivre of a true morning person. The last thing I want to be — or to encounter — is the type who starts off the day by skipping into the kitchen fully dressed, saying things like, “Looks like it’s gonna be a scorcher today!” or “Who wants waffles?”
Morning is for solitude and, if not quiet self-reflection, at least quiet.
Of course, with early rising comes early retiring. My night-owl friends, whom I rarely see before noon, think of me only as “the boring one who falls asleep during movies.”
My antisocial bedtime is especially noticeable during the long days of summer. We have a firepit in our backyard, for example, and every spring I picture us spending many moonlit summer nights out there, talking with friends and staring into the dancing fire.
I always forget one thing: In the summer, by the time the light is fading, so am I.
It’s easier in the winter. By 8:30, it’s been dark for hours. If I did, hypothetically, choose to crawl into bed that early, who would know or care? In summer, however, 8:30 is barely dinnertime.
It’s appalling.
Over the years, though, I’ve learned to accept that our internal clocks are all different. And even though I shudder at the idea that some people might not roll out of bed until nine or even 10 on a weekend — can you imagine? — I don’t judge. In fact, I’m glad that most people don’t go to bed or get up as early as I do.
Some of my favorite people are the ones who stay up until all hours. While I might miss a few fun nights with them around the campfire, I love knowing they will never burst into my kitchen at 6 a.m. and demand that we make waffles.

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