I woke up this morning at 6:30am, completely by accident. My eyes just popped right open and even though I tried to go back to sleep, I couldn’t. I just laid there, awake, thinking about all the morning rituals I’ve had in the past, but no longer do because I have no set schedule in my life right now. And how those schedules were locally specific and historically contextual. Or whatever.
When I was a toddler, I would get up and play while my mom did things around the house. I would watch the dust float in the slices of sunlight that shown through windows, squeezing through the slits between olive green curtains. My brother and I would play in the front yard, making tacos for our imaginary taco cart out of leaves, rose petals, pebbles and seeds from the four-o-clock bushes my mom planted. We would watch Sesame Street and Mr Roger’s before having ramen or cheese/grape/turkey toothpick kabobs outside. The days stretched ahead then. Time, itself, passed by at a different speed.
On Saturdays, when I lived in Brooklyn, ex-boyfriend would go down the street to get us coffee, hot bagels, scallion tofu spread that tasted like cream cheese. He would come back and read the New York Times in the bed, while we ate the bagels. I would listen to the traffic below our bedroom window and listen to NPR. I wasn’t a fan of crumbs in the bed, but it was nice. I very rarely miss him anymore, but I often miss his companionship. I’ve come to know the difference.
When I was still taking coursework in small-midwestern-college-town, I would rush out of bed to the coffee shop—E.R.C.—order an almond skim latte on $2 latte day and cram for seminar. Because I never read ahead like the other grad students in my cohort—especially not that first year in the program.
Then when I was studying for preliminary exams, my girl, M, would call me to make sure I was up and on my way to meet she and Kisha at said coffee shop to read. And I, of course, would get there at least an hour late, because I am not a morning person, even though I love the morning time. By the time I got there they had snagged the big table in the back with the outlets, each having plowed through an entire book by the time I rolled up, only to sit with them for 30 minutes or so before they rushed off to meetings or teaching or class. But those 30 minutes were so important. Because we kept each other on track. Because my girls were going through the same hell I was. A reminder that knowledge is collectively produced and that community is central to everything.
And now I have no regular morning ritual. I am very, very fortunate to be on fellowship, but the lack of a schedule is one of the pitfalls, especially for a procrastinator like me. I have to learn how to find community in different ways or to develop morning rituals for just me. I’ve heard the dissertation process can be extremely isolating, and I’ve been feeling the brunt of that lately. This morning I woke up two hours earlier than I meant to. I made tea and toasted a bagel and read the NY Times online. But perhaps this is the start of a new daily schedule for me. So I can make the most of the sunlight that cuts through the blinds and casts shadows through my aloe plant on my favorite green chair and the purple carpet of my apartment. And so I can write this dang dissertation.