I’m reminded, in the mornings now, of waking up when I was a kid. I was one of six people in my house back then, alongside both my parents, two sisters, and my grandmother (my dad’s mother, who we called Babbie; it was a corruption of her given name, Barbara, and “granny,” coined by my oldest sister when a baby). Waking up would be, for me, a calm before the storm.
I was never the first awake, even though I was an early riser — that wouldn’t happen until college, when I’d have to set an alarm to make sure I caught the early train to Glasgow — but, as a kid, I’d wake up after Babbie and my mum. They’d be awake downstairs, my mum in the kitchen having coffee, cigarettes and a crossword, Babbie in the living room, listening to the radio or watching breakfast TV. I’d be awake before my sisters, though, and before my dad, so there wouldn’t be the noise of a household of six immediately.
I’d wake up and lie in bed. I’d read, or when I reached teenagerdom, jerk off, and it would be quiet out there. The sky would get lighter as the sun decided to do its business, and I’d pick up clothes and head out of the room and into the day. But that period between waking up and getting up, that was everything.
That’s what I remember now, when I wake up. There’s another period now, between waking up and getting up, where I just lie in bed and read. (Or write; that’s when I’m writing this, for example. Sorry, jerking off fans. It’s reading or writing only these days.) There’s something special about this time, in ways that I still don’t fully comprehend, but it’s important to me that I have this small sliver of peace before I get up, pick up clothes, and head out of the room and into the day. Something sacred, almost, three, four decades after that was first the case.