Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Life After Dark

The sound of the alarm on my phone tears through the dark of my bedroom like a knife. The dog sprawled across my legs, pinning me to the mattress, huffs loudly in protest. “Yeah, yeah, I hate it, too…ugh!” As I stretch towards my nightstand, I ask myself (for about the 150th  time this year- the length of time I’ve held a temporary place in my company’s HR department) why on earth I’m awake at this hour.

This hour, in case you’re wondering, is 7 am. I know, I know, I can hear you from all the way over here in Seattle. 7am is normal. YOU’RE up by 7. Hell, you’ve gotten your kids dressed, fed, and out the door by 7am. Well, that’s just fine and dandy for you. For me, however, 7am? Not normal. Not natural. And most DEFINITELY, not wanted.

The most magical time of day for me is actually around 1 am. I love the feel of night. I love the darkness, I love the chill on the air and the energy of a city operating after-hours. I adore the sound of nighttime trains speeding by, their whistles echoing across the quiet valley from miles away. I am hypnotized by the sight of headlights and breaklights cutting through the streets in the dark of night, and I get a thrill from watching nighttime fog swirling around my feet as I step across dark pavement.

I am a night owl, and very much proud to be so.

I always have been. As a child, I resisted going to be bed. My mom finally figured out that the only way to get me in bed and KEEP me there was to allow me to listen to radio-theater on KIRO710 after 9:00 pm. I’d listen to great late-night drama (The Shadow Knows!), and imagine myself sleuthing alongside the detectives long after the radio was turned off. My imagination took me on my own adventures long after the clock ticked past midnight before giving in to exhaustion sometime in the hours before dawn.

I’ve tried the morning shift business. I worked at 6 am or earlier for several years, each time hoping and praying that my body would miraculously adjust and become “normal”. I tried to bribe it with early-hour salt-bagels and Dunkin Donuts coffee. I tried to fool it by getting up an hour before I really had to and starting my day with a round of workout DVD. Each and every time, for years on end, my body held fast to its ideals, demanding that I stay awake long past my new limit, and refusing to start the day without wanting to collapse. I become physically ill if I wake up too early. No, really. I do. I’ve spent more than one morning hugging the porcelain god with no other reason than it’s before dawn and I just can’t face it.
As I’ve grown, I’ve learned to embrace my night owlness. I (generally speaking) work swing shift, and quite happily. While most of my colleagues are scrambling to get on the day shift, (and my insane roommate starts her work day at 5 am, what the hell is SHE thinking?!), I’m perfectly content to close up shop and deal with the late night crazy customers. I get off work around 11-ish, and come home to a late night DVD and a glass of wine, chatting with friends online for a few hours before lazily wandering into bed. I sleep-in in the morning and wake up without an alarm. This is when I feel my best and most alive.

What’s YOUR favorite time of day? Are you a morning-bird? A night-owl? A midday maven? 

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