before it’s light outside

I have a reputation for not being a morning person. It’s not an entirely unfounded reputation: when left to my own devices (such as my year of unemployment when I didn’t have to conform to anybody else’s schedule), I fell into a natural rhythm of staying up until about 2 a.m. and waking up sometime between 8 and 9 a.m. Though really, waking up at, let’s say 8:30 in the morning isn’t extraordinarily late (later than many if not most people have to show up at an office, true), but my natural urge to get out of bed when it’s no longer dark outside makes people say painfully dumb things to me, like when they call at noon on a Saturday and ask if I’m awake. (One true thing: I can count on one hand the times in my life when I have slept until noon.) I don’t really mind waking up early-ish, though I often do mind having to be anywhere in the morning; I like easing my way into every day. I like to drink coffee and read the news. I don’t like rolling out of bed and then having to rush around to get to work on time. I like lazy mornings. SUE ME.

When I started my job, I worked all of the late shifts. It was okay, but somehow my shifts managed to take up my entire day. They didn’t actually take up all of my waking hours, but they came so perfectly in the middle that there wasn’t very much time left on either side to do much of anything else. So I got tired of it after awhile, but it was something I could deal with okay — it wasn’t really anything to complain about. But over time, I have undergone much juggling of my work schedule until now I am, once again, part of the 8-5 working world. Factoring in my commute time means that I have to get out of bed in the 5-ish to 6-ish range. It’s become a routine, to the point where now, even on the weekends when I can stay up as late as I want to and nobody can stop me, I start getting tired pretty early. I still stay up until the middle of the night sometimes, usually if I’m reading a good book or writing something or working on some kind of project, and I still stay out late sometimes, though everybody does that thing where they look at their watches (ha, like anybody wears a watch — I mean, where they look at the time on their phones) way earlier than they used to. We’re not as young as we used to be, for one thing, and for another thing, oh yeah, it’s been fun, but I’ve been awake since 5 so let’s wrap it up.

It’s heading into that time of year when it seems dark all the time, and I won’t start in on how much I hate it, but I do hate it. I wake up in the dark, I drive to work in the dark, I drive home in the dark. The only hours of light are the hours when I’m stuck in an office. I won’t complain here, but it does take a toll, and by March I tend to be completely exhausted of it. Well, by March, I tend to be completely exhausted of most everything, if I’m being honest. But that’s not the point today.

The point is that there’s one tiny little joy in waking up so early every day, and that’s seeing the little old man with the dog. Every morning, between 5:30 and 6:30, I see him, the little old man with the dog. The man has impossibly good posture and walks with a cane. When my windows are open I can hear his cane tapping on the sidewalk. He wears a red jacket and a red cap. His dog is a corgi so fat that he looks like a sausage on legs. The corgi’s name is Buddy. I know this because occasionally I can hear the old man talking to the dog, or calling for him. The two of them — the little old man and the dog — don’t live too far away.

Every morning, regardless of the weather, regardless of the light or the dark, between 5:30 and 6:30, the man in the red jacket walks his dog Buddy around the block. They’re not particularly quick, but they’re not slow either. Steady. They’re steady. Every morning, I hear the tapping of the old man’s cane, and if everything else is still enough, I occasionally hear the jingle of Buddy’s tags. There have been a few times as I’ve been sitting on the back steps in the morning, drinking a cup of coffee and looking at nothing in particular, when the old man has noticed me and he smiles a little. But for the most part, he doesn’t notice me, which is fine. I prefer it when he doesn’t, because I feel like I’m intruding otherwise. I notice them nearly every day, if I’m outside, or if I’m standing near a window, or passing through the living room and the weather’s warm enough to leave the windows open and I happen to hear that tapping cane as they pass.

I like them. That’s all, really. I just like them. There’s a sweetness about the two of them, friends, walking together every morning no matter what. I like them for that.


2 thoughts on “before it’s light outside

  1. That’s an incredibly sappy story. I like it a lot. Old guy in a red coat…that’s worth the price of admission, right there. Add in a fat dog and we’re deep in sap. And yeah. I like it.


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