It’s 1:34 AM, Eastern Standard Time.
I hoped to be asleep exactly one hour and thirty four minutes ago. That has thus far eluded me, so instead I sit here on my bed with music drifting softly from the speakers.
I don’t remember the last time I sat awake at this time without agenda. Out with friends, sure. Up late working, sure. But to simply be awake in the dead of night, when most are tucked into warm beds? That hasn’t happened in a long time.
For a while, I sat and reminisced. Nothing more. I let thoughts and memories bubble to the surface, and even surprised myself at some of the things that came to mind. Do you know that feeling when you hear a fantastic story that you once loved, but have not heard in so long that you forgot it existed? I’m sure there’s a word for it, but I don’t know what that word is.
I thought about the long train ride home from my first visit to New York City. I leave in less than a week to return there (for the third time this year, actually.) New York is where it all began. I had already begun to study Creative Writing, but it wasn’t until New York that my resolve hardened.
The pulse and energy of the city steeled me. I knew then what I still know now: that storytelling was a calling I could never escape, that would be with me to the end of my days.
I still remember standing atop the Empire State Building and looking out over the city. The sun dropped lower and lower in the sky, tinting the edge of the world varying shades of purple and pink and red. And then the city below lit up like stars. Lights winked on in buildings. Streetlights came to life. The brake lights of cars left faint trails like the lazy tip of a paintbrush along the road.
I’m not sure that I breathed throughout all of this. I sat and watched it unfold, but I knew immediately that life would never be the same.
I’m not sure why I’m writing this out. Maybe I simply want the story to be told, to be placed into existence rather than lost in the wispy thoughts of night and forgotten in the light of day. Maybe it’s because dumping my brain into text may allow me to sleep.
Whatever the reason, I write with abandon. This post has no edits or modifications. It has no instructional purpose or grander meaning. It’s simply the thoughts of a sleepy writer, pouring words into the night.
There is a poet named Erin Hanson. She signs each of her works “e.h.”
I don’t know them well. In fact, I can’t recall ever reading her before a few weeks ago. Tonight, I discovered this poem.
“I know 2 AM.
I know it backwards, inside out.
I know the tread of tip-toes
That against the silence shout.
It’s when the nighttime has its guard down
About to swap watch with the day,
And it will talk to you of truth
If you can coax it the right way.
“I know 2 AM,
The way it weaves throughout the city
To settle softly on the things
That in the daylight aren’t so pretty.
I know those safe beneath sheets
Will never see the dark so deep,
And there’s a reason that the dreamers
Aren’t the ones asleep.”
Maybe these times of quiet contemplation are important for writers. I have a tendency to operate in one of two modes: off or in overdrive. I’ll work myself to the bone and never take time to rest. During those times, everything I do is for productivity. If I read, it’s not to refuel my creativity — it’s to learn something. If I listen to music, it’s only to get in the ‘zone’ or to block out the outside world.
I always forget how refreshed I feel after time away. It’s something I need more often than I get it. Do other writers feel the same?
Do others sit on their bed and look out an open window to the thirty-foot high Aflac duck that hangs from the tallest building in the city?
I may awake tomorrow and wonder why I ever wrote this, or perhaps I’ll see it as a Virginia Woolf stream-of-consciousness exercise. And maybe tomorrow I’ll stop drinking coffee once noon hits. Until such time, however, I think I’ll try to sleep.
After all, the witching hour approaches.