When I was a kid, I loved the morning after a party. My brother and I would race downstairs before our parents woke to devour the leftover M & Ms and Wise potato chips from the silver platters where they lay. “Like vultures,” my mother would say, but we didn’t care — these were special foods not usually stocked in the cupboards.
When I was a young college student, the day after was hell. Sunlight hurt, and I hadn’t yet sorted out that the migraine I woke with wasn’t just a hangover but an allergic reaction to alcohol. I would have to walk gingerly, taking great care to stay in dark, quiet places for a long time.
When I was a young mother, the morning after was a mess. Too exhausted to do dishes or pick up plates at the end of the party because of ongoing sleep deprivation, I woke to chaos and my kids hopped up on leftover candy and cookies from the night before.
Now I wake up to a clean house, having learned to clean up before bed (and also being rested enough to do so). I feed the last of the cake to the birds, some other leftovers to the dog. The animals stretch out in the sunlight, and we just marvel at the quiet peace of the house, the happy refrigerator stocked with what people left us.