I am writing this at 6am. For most of my life, this was an ungodly hour, a time I would spend awake only if I carried on through the night or if I had picked one of those cheap flights with a low-cost airline.
I knew of the existence of people who woke up this early and I had always been somewhat fascinated by it, a sort of badge of honour I couldn’t bring myself to wear no matter how much I tried. My father, for example, has always been an early riser – he gets up to drink his first coffee undisturbed, but also – I suspect – to enjoy the only moments in which our home city of Naples is relatively quiet. There are also plenty of characters in US TV shows that make it look so natural, jumping out of bed before dawn without a single complaint, exercising before their children’s breakfast and their jobs, like the character Reese Witherspoon plays in the TV miniseries Little Fires Everywhere. (I am making sure I check the Celeste Ng book in which the show is based before writing more about it, but I will come back to it soon.)
When I moved to Ecuador, I was surprised by how early life started. Neighbours would be in full action at 5am – something I noticed with a lot of spite from my bed, trying to block out the noise from under my pillow. I thought that waking up so early was easier if you were born in such proximity to the equatorial line. An early routine could be the best way to make the most out of daylight in a place where it gets dark at 6pm all year round, I thought, hopeful that I would be naturally inclined to do it there. But whenever I tried to wake up at 7am to go running before traffic got bad in Quito, it was a struggle.
So how did I end up here, on this page, so early in the day? When I became a mother, I realised that the early hours could turn out to be my most precious ones. The time before Lorenzo wakes up bursting with energy and an urge to run everywhere, when my mind is still fresh and possibly rested, promised to become a great time for writing, running, doing yoga and simply breathing before I need to take care of…