[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published March 1, 2017] ©2017
Finally I’m living the life I was meant to live. I just had to wait 65 years for it.
My whole life I’ve been a night person, or more specifically, NOT a morning person. But until I retired a few years ago, circumstances maliciously forced me to live the life of people who were compelled to get up in darkness. The second that alarm went off, I’d lose my will to live. Sometimes for days at a time. I’ve always felt that alarms were cruel and unusual treatment. It didn’t even matter if it was soothing music from a clock radio or a jarring alarm. Unnatural awakening is unnatural awakening.
I actually know people who like to get up early. It’s obviously a birth defect. It just goes against nature to wake up before it’s light. Cave people knew this instinctively. Personally, I am of the belief that anything before 10 a.m. is still the night before.
In my first marriage, I was married to a morning person. This should be a screening question on a marriage license application. Morning people should be legally enjoined from marrying night people. One person I know who would absolutely agree with this is my former husband.
On vacation, for example, crazy psycho morning people want to get up two hours earlier than usual while nice normal night people want to sleep two hours later which is the whole purpose of a vacation.
Night people would never throw a plastic tarp over a sleeping spouse so they can get an early start painting the bedroom ceiling. (You know who you are.)
I concede that sunrises are beautiful. If only you didn’t have to get up so early to see one.
I mean, it’s not like I haven’t seen plenty of sunrises in my life, especially while feeding an infant. They have absolutely no respect for the rest requirements of their parents.
I’ve also experienced a fair number of sunrises en route to the airport for an o-dawn-thirty flight to the east coast. What with TSA lines now, you have to get up at 3 a.m. which even morning people would have to concede is in the middle of the night. I admit that the soft light looks really pretty on Mission Bay as those gluttons-for-punishment, the rowers, glide across the glassy water.
Which leads us to the third way I’ve seen a lot of sunrises: as the glutton-for-punishment parent of one of those rowers. OK, I get that you have to row when the water is quiet if you don’t want the boat to be swamped. But for all four years of high school, my younger son Henry was a rower which necessitated him being on site at the boat house as the first potential ray of light peeped over the horizon. One of the happiest days of my life was the day he got his driver’s license and I heard the car pulling out of the driveway to rowing practice without me in it.
But there were still frequent regattas in not-nearby places like Long Beach and Newport Beach for which the rowers had to be on site at precisely 6 a.m. This meant that we had to be on the road at 4 a.m. Henry would be snoozing in the back seat while I fed cups of industrial-strength coffee to the semi-conscious Olof who was driving. We’d turf Henry out at the dock then go have breakfast in the dark at the Denny’s in Long Beach, watching the sun come up over the bright yellow obnoxiously cheerful Denny’s sign, the sight of which I hate to this day.
And then, of course, I frequently had to get up before dawn for work, depending on what season of year it was. And that’s my second favorite thing about retirement: waking up when I want to. If I’d known how good retirement was, I’d have spent my entire working career being despondently depressed.
The other side of not having to get up early is that you can read late into the night. Some (my second husband would be one of them) would consider it the next morning. In my frantic single working mom years, I managed to read one book a year. Now I get to read three a week.
The only way I’d willingly see sunrises again is in a recumbent position. This, I discovered, can be achieved if you live in an east-facing high rise where you can angle your bed toward the window. I have a friend who lives in one. You open your eyes as all that pretty pink light floods in and then as soon as it’s over, hit the automatic curtain closer button, flip over, and go back to sleep until a civilized hour.
If I can’t have that, I’ll just watch the video.
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