Nearing Midnight

Dark Street, Winter

© grs84pl /


The alarm is set to sound at 6:45 tomorrow morning. I should have been in bed and turning off my light by now. But inspiration often comes calling at the least convenient times, and fleeting mistress that she is I like to entertain her when she pays me a visit. So, time to write.

These still moments of the day – sunrise, midnight, the dark early hour of the morning when the birds start singing – these are the moments that shine in my memory. Sunrise after talking to an Internet friend all through the night, three time zones separating us. Or watching the fog creep along the ground as a friend drops us all off at home, one by one, after a night of festivities. Or walking across the college campus at midnight on my way to the radio station, pausing in wonder as a bat swoops past mere inches past my head, coming and going without a sound. Or any number of lonely, cozy moments spent with friends and strangers around a roaring bonfire. Or blues dancing in the cool of an early summer night, melting into the music and the arms of near-strangers and falling in love for mere minutes, then each of us drifting off into the darkness on opposite sides of the dance floor.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on these memories, so many memories! and on the twisting, awkward, briar-lined path I’ve taken to this point in my life. The friends I’ve grown with, and grown away from. The places I’ve rooted myself to, and the places to which I can no longer return without feeling both a strange disjointed longing and a vague sense of revulsion. The ecstatic moments, and the contented moments, and the painful moments that are still precious because without them we could measure no joy.

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence. (H.W. Longfellow)

Funny how the quotes I remember as a teenager are the ones coming back to me lately as I move haltingly and awkwardly into a new stage of my life. We are all ships on the ocean, passing one another for fleeting moments. We get longer moments with some than with others. Sometimes we pass by that way again, sometimes not. Sometimes time does a weird loop-de-loop and we end up back from where we thought we were gone for good.

I’m excited about new moments! New places, new faces, new landscapes, and new things for which I don’t even have words in my lexicon.

And yet, I’m not quite ready to go. Let me have a few more things here, God. A few more lives to intertwine and tangle with mine. A few more trysts in the moonlight. A few more memories to freeze in time and to carry with me forever.

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