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I started going to nursery school at the ridiculously tender age of three. I can remember the first day at school, when the nurse hired to take care of my brother and I, Gizelle, took me in and left me there. I cried my eyes out and kept promising to be a good girl if only she would take me back home. I was later told that Gizelle was on the other side of the door, crying her eyes out as well. Anyway, I was left there. I distinctly remember the feeling of everything being strange. They sat us at long brightly colored tables, all different colors, red, blue, green and yellow. I was put at a blue table, then we were given plasticine to play with and make shapes. To this day the smell of plasticine and chalk bring back those terrible feelings of loss and total alienation. I know I cried so much that I threw up, had to be taken by one of the teachers to be cleaned up, then spent a miserable day feeling abandoned, but strangely enough, not scared. I was not ecstatic to see my nurse come collect me half way through the day, I was numb and was bracing for more betrayals.
That was my introduction to living outside the cocoon that was my home up till then. Every day became like other days, I would be woken up, washed, dressed, fed then taken out of the house early in the morning, and returned half way through the day. Slowly I started getting used to the routine, some confidence coming back that I would be collected and taken back home to my security, my warm home with my Mom and Papa.
It was from that age on that I got into the habit of waking up, going to the bathroom, feeding myself then going out. All through my junior school years there was the nurse doing all that for my brother and I. When we reached junior high, the nurse left, and we felt adult enough to do for ourselves. The only problem though was getting up. No alarm clock ever got me out of bed. It woke me up, but never out of bed. I always had to be coaxed, then threatened to get up. I hated leaving my safe, warm cocoon and getting up to go out. Probably a subconscious residue of that traumatic first day at school.
I love winter, I usually feel far better and more active and alive in the sharp, crisp coolness of the day, but I hate getting up in the morning in winter. Once I started taking full responsibility for myself, in high school, I loved the alarm clocks that had the snooze option. Five more minutes in bed. I used to set the alarm clock a good twenty minutes before I had to get up, just so that I can snooze four times. Of course, in the end, it always ended with having to leave my warm cocoon and get out of the house.
The years went by, I graduated from school, went to university, graduated from that, then started working. All through my work career I still had to get up and go to work. I still hated it. But finally came the day when, because of my Mom’s progressing illness, I opted for what I called early retirement. I had to buy years of ‘service’ to be eligible. This meant I had to pay the equivalent of my social security deductions for those years, for me to be eligible for a pension. I did that, and finally, after years of getting up early every morning and going out, I could now actually sleep in. Heaven.
My five minutes, or snooze time, has now become nearly two hours. There is absolutely nothing that necessitates my getting out of bed at an ungodly hour in the morning. I have travelled the full circle and come back to feeling that warm, secure cocoon that I need not leave.
I have now made a luxury of that one inconvenience I had lived with all my life. My kettle and tea are right there, my bread sticks are there, I get up to make my tea, bring it and my bread sticks to the side table and get back into bed and luxuriate to my heart’s content. I read, write, listen to music, I might even take another nap, but I do not get up until I feel like it. My five minutes have turned into hours of pure physical, mental and emotional pampering. I love my bed, my cocoon. I love my retirement.