Yesterday was a strange day for me. I was going to say I had to get up at 6am, but actually Leif had to get up to work and out of sympathy I got up too. It was hard, which is surprising because I have always been a morning person, kind of prided myself on the fact that I got so much done before most other people even considered getting out of bed. This has apparently changed. I pretty much wandered around the apartment in a haze while he bustled back and forth, washing his bike and packing the cooler and getting ready. I think he asked me to make coffee, and I’m pretty sure I got that done. When he left, taking all that energy with him, I sat down to try and get my bearings a little. I was tired. Nothing seemed in focus yet. I didn’t remember drinking my coffee and thought it would be lovely if someone would make some more for me, but doing it myself seemed like too much work. It took me till about 10am to feel like I was awake. I realized then I have really, really changed some major things in my life, and my internal clock is one of them.
The hours of my day in Minnesota started early, always. I grew up on a farm which of course means chores. You never hear farmers talking about getting to the chores by 10am, you hear them talk about getting enough done to have coffee and a snack by that time. So naturally I was raised to think that the best time of the day to really get things done is before 10am, it’s all down hill from there. Not that you can’t be productive the rest of the day, but if your list isn’t half done by 10 you aren’t really trying. To do that they get up at 6am full of energy and coffee; milking, plowing and mucking to their little hearts’ content.
When I had children I got up early so that I could get myself ready before I had to get them through breakfast and dressing and out the door. Truly, I needed breakfast and a cup of coffee before tackling those two. (I love you) When they were gone I continued to get up early because my then husband liked to get out of bed 5 minutes before he had to leave the house and I just didn’t want to be in the way of all that stress.
For the last two years of my life in Minnesota I was a baker. Another profession that just knows the best part of the day is before 9am. A bakers job is to drag people out of bed by their nostrils, tempting them with aromas that deliver what they promise. This requires a lot of prep work, and so bakers are up before farmers. Seems impossible, I know, but the baker is probably at work by 4:30am making sure your muffins are hot and crumbly by the time you drag yourself out of bed and down to the coffee shop. They don’t make themselves, you know.
Then I moved to Italy. I didn’t expect to change everything about myself. I assumed that I would remain a morning person because 50 years of getting up that early is a habit not easily changed. Or so I thought. The first few months here I woke up early, but went back to sleep (my grandmother is turning over in her grave) and got up at a more reasonable hour like 7 or 8. I stayed up later of course, because we start getting dinner ready about 8pm. Then, ever so slowly, I stopped waking up at 6am. I should say that I still wake enough to acknowledge that 6am is here, because the business behind our apartment starts running forklifts then, but I no longer wake up and lay there awake. I hear the first few beep-beeps as they back up and then I am already sound asleep again.
This is not an unusual thing for Italy. The whole country gets going just a little later in the morning. Shops close for several hours in the middle of the day for lunch and perhaps a quick nap. People work till 7or 8pm without putting in overtime. Dinner is a leisurely affair that ends the day softly. Maybe not for everyone, but certainly for us. We cook together, we eat together, and we clean up together. No TV, rarely any plans to go out later...no rush to get through dinner so that we can do "just a couple more things" before we go to bed. Why, when tomorrow morning or afernoon will do just as well?
If I have never explained this before, this is exactly one of the reasons I moved here. My body and mind thrived during my visit two years ago on the schedule of late nights followed by lazy mornings. Accompanied frequently by an afternoon nap. My experience this time is exactly the same. I feel good. My body aches less and I have few headaches or other ailments. I just feel better. And before someone says that maybe I’m just getting older and need more sleep I would like to point out that I don’t fall asleep sitting up like Grandma Hauck. So it’s not age but wisdom, I hope. I don’t feel the pressure from hypothetical projects I could be doing if only I would get up early enough. I don’t worry about missing the “best part of the day” because I may in fact be coming to the realization that the best part of my day is the part where I am awake and present, enjoying myself and the people around me. And that, my friends, is quite a conclusion to make on only one vaguely remembered cup of espresso.