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I don’t like mornings.No, that’s not quite true. I do like mornings, I’m just not emotionally or physically equipped to experience them the way some people do. My individual circadian profile means that I become naturally alert and awake around 10-10:30 am, and prefer to go to sleep between 2 and 3 am. Yes, I know that’s only 6 hours of sleep; when I’m allowed to wake and sleep on this schedule it seems that’s all I need. I’m perpetually well-rested and ready to go.

On the other hand, life’s not adapted to my individual circadian profile. Which means I need a solid 8 hours and I still wake up groggy. And while it’s not the worst thing in the world to get up and work out at 5:00 am, before I’m alert enough to figure out what’s happening to me and object, I’m really not on my game until 10:00 no matter how many cups of coffee, Rockstar, 5-Hour Energy or mysterious sodastream “energy formula” syrup I consume.

Still, there’s a subtle allure to early mornings.

I like watching light slowly flood into the world, color returning to the greyed-out trees and grass of night. I like wondering if a thin orange line will creep across the horizon or if the sun will slink into the sky behind a cover of cloud, already risen by the time it’s noticeable. I like lying on my back in a summer field, watching the stars fade and what a friend once called “the blue channel” come on.

And all that is very pretty, and nice, but I don’t think it’s why I like mornings.

My particular brand of insomnia manifests itself in light sleep and difficulty getting back to sleep once I’ve woken up. So I spend a lot of time as the first one awake if I’m in a new place. If I’m traveling like I am this week, or if my family or friends get a vacation house for a weekend, I’m almost always the first one up.

I swear, I’m not a creeper, but I like to watch you sleep.

There’s a particular weighty joy to being the only one awake in a house of sleepers. You’re almost standing guard over them. It’s a time to reflect, to do the little things like prepare breakfast, put the kettle on, pick up the last of the dishes that they were too tired to put away last night. A time to perform the myriad small rituals of waiting and watching.

It’s not that I like mornings, I suppose. It’s that I like giving presents. I like knowing that a sleeper is going to wake up to fresh coffee, or to a french toast bread pudding with cinnamon. I like picturing them lying in bed – the way I wish I were right now – and remembering being a child and having someone else take care of mornings, entirely. Waking up slowly, because the responsibility of being an adult lies on someone else, for the moment. This part of mornings, for me, is like the feeling of anticipation you get when you slip out in the middle of the night to add an extra treat or two to a Christmas stocking, or when you’re decorating for a party.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, someone’s alarm just went off, and it’s time to put the kettle on.

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