Rise and Shine, Chicago: Why You Should Wake Up Early

by: Tania Zaparaniuk 

Credit: Richard Seaman.

Have you ever seen Chicago in the morning? Not like, via crowded Brown line, through the windshield of your Ranger, jogging the path you could do with your eyes closed, or under the split vision of a helmet- where the city suddenly becomes a standard four story monolith.

What I mean is more like, have you ever seen a Chicago morning via the the longer route, a new cafe, or on the back porch you pay an extra $50 a month for, but never use?

Morning in Chicago is the time of day when you can stop and remember what your neighbors look like. Yes, they exist. They aren’t just footsteps from above or hookah rising from below. Early morning is when you can take ’em by surprise, and commit their faces to memory. If you’re lucky, you might even catch them walking their pup – and suddenly Fido seems a lot less obnoxious than the disembodied bark you hear at dinner time every stinkin’ night. Oh, and they might have names too, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Morning in Chicago is when you realize the elementary school down the block actually has children in it, because they’re all prancing down the sidewalk with those oversized backpacks. You know, the ones that drag on the ground and make you smile like a goof? I mean really, everything else they own is pint sized- so why does it look like they’ve got my Timbuktu bag and a half slung over their tiny shoulders? The ones with the attached lunch boxes are the real winners.

Getting up early in the city means you can enjoy your commute. Start small. A 10 minute head start means you can get on and off the train, and to the office, without sweating through your shirt and quite literally sticking to everyone on the red line. Still amazes me how many more people can cram themselves onto the train during rush hour than during peak tourist hours. Train vets have mad strategy. Having been one prior to my morning person transformation, I can confidently say-  don’t get in their way. Get there early, get yourself a seat, and save yourself a lot of awkward bodily encounters.

Come January, I get it. I know. My human self also struggles to get out of bed and into the awful shock of the [heated] apartment outside my comforter. But let me tell you, it’s worth it to see the sunshine. Chicago is Vitamin C deficient starting in November and ending in April. Dangerously so. We move between the dark dungeons that are our apartments, to the caves that are our offices (unless you work in a greenhouse, in which case- get at me), and back to the dungeons right when the sun sets around, ohh say 4pm? Those of us who can’t afford to skip off to Bora Bora should really consider the feeling of the sun at 7am as opposed to the theoretically just as capable vitamins on our nightstands. I promise, they won’t do nearly as much for your sanity.

I’m proud to say this is not being written from a place of hypocrisy, but rather, from a cafe off Chicago and Franklin at 7:30am. Strange? Maybe. But also a little more sane because I got to see Chase bounding down the stairs this morning for his walk, giving me some kisses along the way. I got to smile as I passed the mom walking her kids to school, while those backpacks threatened to topple them onto their bums. I’m more sane because I’ve gotten just that much more sunshine (yes, I should move to Hawaii). Sane because I got a seat on the train- unheard of for a commute to work. And definitely more sane because it’s 8:15, I’ve had my cafe au lait, I’ve finished writing a post for the baby that is my blog, and I’ve even managed to read the paper. I’m winning, and you’re not even awake.

Tania Zaparaniuk  is a graduate of DePaul University’s International Studies and Economics programs. When not writing or climbing, she’s usually just trying to fulfill her new mantra, to live a life full of purpose, good people, and positive change. Check out her blog at whosewordsarethese.wordpress.com . Cheers!

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