Some of you are old enough to remember the Energy Crisis of the 1970s - OPEC embargos, gas rationing, year-round daylight savings time. I was in 8th grade, and Mr. Fish was the new music teacher. He did not think we had enough time during the school day to rehearse, so he instituted mandatory morning choir twice a week - before school started. You were expected to be on the risers at 7:15.
I've never been a fast walker, and we lived about a mile and a half from school, so I set out at 6:45 for that first rehearsal. Daylight savings time in October means full dark until after 7:00 AM. I'd walked about half a block when a car pulled up beside me. The window rolled down and I heard my father say "Get in". My mother had made it very clear that I was walking to school that year. It was good exercise, and my brother was still in elementary school and didn't need to leave as early so Mom couldn't take both of us. Dad was fine with that plan until he realized I was walking in the dark, in our neighborhood with no sidewalks.
For the next five years, my father drove me to school every morning. We left the house at his usual time - 7:00 AM - which meant that I arrived at school at least 45 minutes before school started and was almost always the first student in the building. I developed a good relationship with the principal, who was also arriving at about that time, and the folks who worked in the main office. I was certainly never late for homeroom. I kept singing in choir, and I started writing for the newspaper and performing in plays and working on the yearbook; most days I either ate dinner at school between meetings and rehearsals, or I went home after classes and then headed back to school before Dad got home from work. By the time I got home, my parents were in bed. If it hadn't been for those drives to school, I could easily have gone for days at a time without seeing my father at all.
Senior year he started taking me out to breakfast once a month. It was a quick stop at McDonald's (which had just started serving in the morning) but it was a little more time together, time he was willing to take from his office and hospital schedule. My father worked long hours. His first appointment was scheduled at 7:30 AM and he rarely came home before 7:00 PM. He went into the hospital for at least a few hours every Saturday and Sunday, and he was available by phone even when he wasn't on call. But my father drove me to school every day, and he knew what classes I was taking and what projects I was worried about and what role I was auditioning for in the school musical. Those drives to school kept us connected.
I've been thinking about those morning drives lately because Eve joined the middle school orchestra. They rehearse after school on Thursdays, and before school on Mondays - start time 7:05. I do not want to get up earlier and rush through my shower, and find myself at loose ends for half an hour before my work day starts. But if Eve remembers those mornings the way I remember my father taking me to school, it will all be worth it.