I like to get up when it’s dark in the morning, move sleepily in the dark, work, drink coffee and listen to music without distractions. I keep the lights off, which prevents visual noise. Outside, just the moon, maybe a neighbor’s TV flashing blue and green on the living room wall.
My preference for the early morning is not original, but it is deeply felt. I’m thinking of those deeply felt preferences, the little things we love and hate, and how each one on its own is insignificant but, when taken together, makes up the whole of a personality.
I got into a back and forth joke with a friend this week about daylight saving time. When we “jump forward,” she argued, it takes weeks for her to adjust, to stop feeling rushed in the morning, to get over having “lost” an hour. She receives this missed hour as a harbinger of summer, her least favorite time of the year, its heat and her humidity. I played smug victor, reveling in my extra hour of morning darkness and its extra hour of evening light.
I often stumble across this Susan Sontag list of likes and dislikes, a quirky set of the mundane and the extraordinary:
Things I like: bonfires, Venice, tequila, sunsets, babies, silent movies, heights, coarse salt, top hats, big long-haired dogs, model ships, cinnamon, goose-down quilts, pocket watches , smell of freshly cut grass, linen, Bach, Louis XIII furniture, sushi, microscopes, large rooms, boots, drinking water, maple sugar candy.
Things I don’t like: sleeping alone in an apartment, the cold, couples, football matches, swimming, anchovies, mustaches, cats, umbrellas, being photographed, the taste of licorice, washing my hair (or have it washed), wear a wristwatch, give a lecture, cigars, write letters, take a shower, Robert Frost, German food.
Each item taken separately might pass for a whim, but there are clues to the person in the list: a person who likes babies but doesn’t like partners, likes the smell of cut grass, and doesn’t like the cold. . (A fellow vernal equinox supporter, perhaps?) In the absence of any explanation, the meaning of the list is malleable.