rosy-fingered dawn

I love and hate early mornings.

It’s a beautiful time of day even in ugly places. The light of the first hour or so paints things nicely. And when I’m up very early I have a feeling of excitement and possibility. The day stretches ahead to infinity! Anything can happen! The coffee tastes good, I like other people, things are tingly and effervescent. At the same time, things are calm, there’s no anxiety, and the quiet is beautifully relaxing.

Unfortunately, I’m almost always dog-tired too. Even if I went to bed and to sleep in time to have a nice 8 hours of sleep, 5 am is a big cup of exhausted. The exhaustion and the calm elation balance neatly and I feel as though I stayed up all night. I will almost always require a nap by about 10 am, or be fighting sleep the rest of the day otherwise. When I had to get up early to take a crosstown bus to a day job, I would hit a wall at about 10:30 and not come out of it until afternoon coffee at 2 pm or so.

I have a couple of dawn images that always come up when I think about mornings. The first is from childhood. We had a 28 foot sailboat and would go to Catalina Island (26 miles off the coast here) for trips in the summer. We’d moor at Hen Rock Cove. In the very early morning, I’d go up topside. The water in the cove was nearly flat, with the tiniest waves rolling in from the fogged-over sea. The only sounds were the creaking of the boat and a few bird cries, maybe a very distant sound of some other boat running a motor. If I looked down into the clear cold water I might see a bright orange Garibaldi fish. Time just completely stopped. Until it was time to have cereal out of the cool little boxes, or toast made on a stove!

The second one is from college. When I first started doing radio shows on KLA, they were the least favored shift, 3-6 am. I’d play my favorite records to 1.5 people and then stagger home just as the rest of school was waking up for their 8 am classes. UCLA is a particularly pretty campus at dawn, with all that rosy brick lighting up and trees everywhere, and lots of cobbly pathways. A bit dazed with sleep deprivation, I’d toddle back to the dormitory and eat Captain Crunch and scrambled eggs while the PA played shitty Top 40 and everyone else was hurrying to get something in their faces before class. Then I’d go up to the 7th floor where I lived and sit in the lounge for a while watching the sun hit Bel Air and the tennis courts. I was so tired, but it was a little magic time.

I hope that this brain work I’m doing offers the opportunity to wake up earlier and enjoy it more. That’s supposed to be one of the goals, and it would be great to see more dawns, and feel less down-the-bone exhausted while doing so. One good result of NFB so far is that I feel that “morning calm” more often, when I can just look at what’s in front of me and sit, and not need to be reading-talking-typing-driving-thinking-zooming all the time.

3 thoughts on “rosy-fingered dawn

  1. i love your catalina memory! i’ve lived here most of my life and i’ve never been to catalina… it’s a shame really.
    also… i have this horrid inability to function in the morning. even if i go to bed at like 8pm, if i wake up before the sun is very much UP, i am worthless. i think i’m just inherently nocturnal. i always did like falling asleep right after the sun came up though… so i could still experience the calm and the pretty, but i could go to sleep right after.

  2. UCLA at dawn is an experience unlike any campus I’ve been, and I’ve been at many. Sometimes I couldn’t fall asleep in my apartment for some reason, so I’d drive to campus at 3 and nap in the car till for a few hours until the gym opened at 6-7. That, and coming out of Bunche alone late at night, were the only times I felt comfortable, and oddly the only times I didn’t feel lonely at that school.

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