Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Am A Night Owl

     I've always stayed up late into the night.  I don't know why.  I am the youngest child of a very loud family and the only place I could hide for peace and quiet was in the silence of the night.  That isn't the only reason, though.  For as long as I can remember, I've felt compelled to lay awake with my eyes open in the darkness.  Is it possible for a seven year old to hunger to stare into the void?
     When I was seven I would stare at the faint suggestion of a ceiling that my eyes could see, without my glasses, in the dark and I would listen to the Beastie Boys tape that my brother went to sleep to every night. It sounded like poetry to me and it still does.  I've since figured out that the poetry wasn't in the lyrics but in the grooves.  The poetry of life is so often found in the grooves and cracks.  There was something I learned right away too, though.  Something I didn't have to wait for age and wisdom to reveal to me.  Poetry can drive you fucking crazy.
     When I was fourteen I would mark my spot in the Stephen King book I was reading, turn off the lights, lay in bed, light my Marlboro Red, and stare at the fire that burned at the end of that cancer stick.  I thought I was so fucking cool.  I just knew I was destined to stay awake pondering the things no one else had the guts to ponder and then spend my days writing about them.  Even then, however, I somehow sensed destiny could be a tricky bitch and I wondered if I was actually going to end up in a mine or factory or something other working class job like the rest of my working class family.  That thought didn't bother me much.  After all, with the grades I was pulling down by going to school high everyday that possibility was far more likely.  Besides it was everyone else that thought I was destined for something special not me.  If those thoughts seem contradictory, well I was a teenager.
     When I was twenty-one I was already married and I worked two full time jobs.  After I finally got the gas station cleaned up in the middle of the night after September 11th, I found the darkest spot I could find in the parking lot.  Exhausted, I stared at the neon lights and the stars I could barely see and the burning end of a four in the morning cigarette.  I wondered what was becoming of the world and what the hell I could do about it.  Then I finished my smoke and went back to work.  I'm sure I wasn't alone in my late night pondering that night but when it came to shaking them off and getting going again I had an advantage over most people.  I was already well practiced at dealing with the thoughts that are thought in the darkness.
     When I was twenty-eight I would sneak out to the smoke shack at the factory where I worked and watch the deer graze in the moonlight.  I would puff my cigarette and ponder my life.  Mostly I would think about my marriage and wonder if it was worth it.  There wasn't anything apparently wrong but it didn't feel right either.  Still, in the middle of the night I would always decide everything was alright because I had my son and we were good parents and that was enough to keep going.  Obviously, she eventually decided differently but I doubt her decision was made in the middle of the night.  She never understood the light I could find in the darkness.
     When I'm thirty-five, well that's next year but I'm sure I'll still be awake when I should be sleeping.  Hopefully then when I'm laying in bed I see the glowing of the battery on an electronic cigarette or no glowing at all except for my evil cat's eyes.  I suppose it's even possible that I'll sleep more then but I'm not optimistic about it.  Of course, it's not yet two a.m.  Ask me again then.  I find my optimism in the dark.
     A strange thing has been happening lately, though.  Being at home alone, my son gone for the summer, the evenings have begun to feel like midnights.  As the days get longer my mind seems to ignore the sunlight and pretend it's dark except for the moon and stars.  I think about things I don't normally think about except for in the middle of the night.  I think about the Beastie Boys and poetry, destiny and what I'm doing with my life, the world and what it's coming too, love and family, and, of course, nicotine.  Summer has become the season of the hours before dawn for me.
     Some of you reading this will think it sounds depressing and grim and far too heavy and dark.  Some of you will get it, though.  Some of you will know.  These thoughts in the dark, of the dark, are what keep me going.  They are what get me up in the morning when I manage to get up in the morning.  Sometimes I don't because I am a night owl and as much as I complain about not sleeping I don't think I'll ever be any other way.  I'll always rather hoot at the moon than bathe in the sunshine.

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