This morning, I was on the phone with my mom at 8:33am when we heard my dad return from taking my grandmother to the hairdresser. Return from taking her to the hairdresser. And Nanny was not the first customer. Nanny is third in line.
Each week, for decades, she’s gone to have her bouffant washed and sprayed. She has a standing 8am appointment, for which she arrives promptly at 7:45am. Even if she gets there first, she doesn’t go first. She’s very Calvinistic this way–she’s always been third and there she shall stay. But either way, she’s home by 8:30, evidently.
Where I grew up, people get up early in the morning. Many people work as farmers or shift-workers in factories, so their work days begin at 7…or 5am if they’re doing overtime. As a result, businesses open early.
I’ve always been a morning person, too, and I’m not sure if that’s my temperament or because I could never sleep much past 6 since my dad’s work truck beeped a lot as he took off each morning. As a teenager working at K-mart, I never really minded getting there for the 8am store opening. There were always people waiting in line outside the doors by the time I arrived.
Moving to Pittsburgh represented a drastic shift in my shopping habits and the way I had to think about my mornings. Even before I had kids, I felt startled to arrive at grocery stores and see they were closed until 9am. And malls don’t open until 10 or sometimes 11. Eleven! The Apple store doesn’t even open until 10.
Just yesterday, I tried to go to the farm stand for peaches and corn. Not even the farm stand in Pittsburgh opens until 9. I had to buy grocery store corn. Set in my own routines, I tend to just feel irritated about this because I want to get errands out of the way so I can do things like exercise or clean or plan excursions. Pre kids, it took me out of my comfort zone to switch around the order of these chores to wait for stores to open.
Now, of course, I have children and they don’t sleep ever at all. On my best days, I lovingly refer to them as dairy farmers, because we are all up and very active well before 7am. Local people know this about us, that there’s a standing invitation to just come over at an ungodly hour and we can hang out in the back yard with our dairy-farmer kids. It kills us to “wait” until kids’ places open…the Children’s Museum doesn’t open its doors until 10am and the zoo doesn’t open until 9:30 in the summer.
It really shouldn’t seem as hilarious to me that my grandmother is the third person washed and coiffed at the hairdresser by 8:30am, because usually I’ve done many loads of laundry and dishes by that time and maybe even have muffins in the oven. It would actually be nice to instead sneak away and get my scalp massaged in those bleary hours. Then I could come home and still have an hour and a half to kill before we can take the kids someplace entertaining.
Apparently Nanny has been frustrated that the banks in my hometown are starting to open later. She can’t go from the hairdresser to the bank anymore because the bank doesn’t open until 9! Here she is, having to leave her comfort zone and adjust her morning routine.
It’s nice for me to glimpse these snippets of my personality traits in the generations that came before me. I’m never really as different from my family as my teenage self hoped I’d be, am I? I make a lot of jokes about my sons having to build me a napping cottage in Southern France as retribution for all the sleepless nights and pre-dawn wakings, but if I’m honest, heredity tells me I was already going to be getting up for my wash and set.
I’d like to think I’ll at least insist on going first if I’m first to arrive.