It’s about the rhythm, I think.
Slower, uncluttered. I always feel as if I’m breathing easier, thinking more clearly. All the things that didn’t make sense, didn’t want to lend themselves to clarity become readable, reachable, sensible.
“After the sun sets”, I tell everybody, “I’m at my best after the sun sets”. More focused, funnier (well, I think so), more sure of myself… I’m a total wreck before 10 a.m., functional at 12, revving up after 1, but as the old song goes “Give me the night”.
That’s right, Ma. Your daughter is a lady of the evening.
I always have been. Daylight is too bright, too chaotic, too full of other people’s wants and wishes. Too fast, too finite.
Nights are full, all about possibilities. Seeing things in a literally different light, being able to hear yourself think. Nights are about letting go, letting loose, being at the top of my game. Nights are about blues and jazz and hearing rhythm that gets lost in the rush of sunlight. Even tears…crying at night is, for me, about healing, not pain.
While I’ve always felt that way, I haven’t always been able to indulge the feeling. Both my parents were early risers, raised to respond to the call of birds waking, the Earth stirring. I was brought up to believe that lying abed is close onto sloth and not quite sin, that anything important can (and should be) be handled between 8 and 5, that the world does its best work before lights
go out in cities all over the world.
Oh, to be sure, there were things about night-time. I mean, have you ever tried to take 5 wriggly little girls to the drive-in during the day? Shot fireworks off the balcony right after lunchtime?
My parents, like most of the world, appreciated evening, but kept it to its proper place. They spent their nights undoubtedly sleeping the sleep of the just, only getting up to check that children were covered up, windows were open just a tad (too much night air was bad for you), that the dog was inside. They could never quite understand why anybody would want to (or could) keep their heads up past 9:30.
For a long time, I did that, too. I mean, our parents mold us, right? But it never really did feel quite correct. And in my house, you went to bed when you were told, and stayed there.
But away from home, once I left home, I connected with the joy of staying up (and usually out) all night. Hanging out with friends, reading my poetry in clubs that didn’t come alive til 10:30 or 11, dancing all night, every night, and then making it back home about an hour after the sun came up. I saw a whole lot of 6 a.m.- as I was going to bed.
I remember landscapes in my head. Seeing a snow and lightning storm tear across a dark cobalt sky. I remember standing on that freezing-cold dining room floor, not quite knowing what woke me up, just knowing that I had to be there, feeling the house shake and watching the sky shiver while my parents and sisters slept soundly on.
Standing in the empty street with my then best gal-pal, city at a hush, the only ones awake, laughing like crazy. A years-ago lover slipping into my bed around 7 every morning, both of us awake enough to exchange kisses and fall asleep in each other’s arms. Coming in from dancing all night, raiding the local grocery for burger and fries to cook for a 5:30 breakfast, then falling
asleep, legs twitching as if I were still on the dance floor.
Secret (from his mother anyway) 3 a.m. Picnics with my youngest nephew, who was a nightbird, too. We’d nibble crackers and bits of chicken, sip juice and talk about…whatever. Pretty heady stuff when you’re 4. Pretty cool when you’re 36, too. I’d send him back to bed, sure. Babies need their sleep. But I’d have another 3 or so hours to think about how much fun we’d had. Savor our
discussions and muffled giggling over and again right before my head hit the pillow.
Sitting up playing a marathon game of 5,000 Rummy, (500 doesn’t last long enough), with my favorite sister, talking about relationships and being little girls and jobs and…everything. Fifteen years old, spending the summer night in hammocks and blankets on the back patio with that same sister, singing Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” and trying not to wake my parents. (I found out the next morning that my father had lain awake, listening to every note. Maybe the later hours called to him a little, too).
Soft, quiet hours sitting by myself, thinking or planning or baking or making a poem.
Sure, daylight has things to recommend it. You can’t do Christmas morning after 9. Nothing like tanning, walking in a not-quite-hot windy breeze, looking ever so fine in your favorite shorts. Knowing after a soul-harrowing day of taking care of business that you are finished and can just go home and melt. A buzzing, shared energy from all the millions of people and places that are
humming along with you, getting things done.
But I think, write, create best at night. Feel alone without being lonely; hear myself even out, feel all my creative thoughts and ideas flow without coercion or prompting. Not zoned out, just mellow. My energy level goes up, I can hear my whole self burning, bursting with things to do and get done like I never do in the daytime.
It’s all about the rhythm. Musical or Circadian, stars-call or starlight. Moons, tides… there are a million different explanations. Yes, I’ve had to reset my body clock from time to time to accommodate other jobs, other people, schedules I couldn’t control. But I always come back to late night, smokin‘ velvet hours, the deep, rich tones of myself settling into the universe, in
perfect peace of mind.
I can function when and where I need to, open my eyes with the sun, do business, meet and greet and live in the light. But the truth of the matter bears repeating. I live, love, illuminate my own life best after the sun goes down.
You keep pace with the daylight hours, if you like. Just give me the night.