I am bathing in the comforting darkness of a late, late night, caressed by its sweet anonymity.
Beyond the window, leaves rustle, but no one save the insomniacs like me hear them. Somewhere out there, if you follow the dark long enough, you will find the light. Somewhere in this night, there is a daybreak. Not metaphorically. But very much in actuality. If you walk and walk along the deserted highways, if you are able to slip through the narrow pathways that open onto the ocean and if, after that, you reach the horizon, there will be a sun waiting — warm and glorious. A promised day.
Somehow, it is there that I find myself now. In this rising sun, kilometres away from this dark room and the cold circulating inside.
I’ve done nothing in particular to feel like this. At times, these thoughts catch me off-guard and I stay up waiting for the sun to rise, feeling eternal.
Note: So when I was little, I had really bad insomnia. Often I would just wake up in the middle of the night and sit by the window in the dark, waiting 3 or 4 hours for the sun to rise. I’ve tried multiple times to write about these weirdly formative nights but they were just that: attempts. Somehow, this 2-minute midnight scribble is the closest I’ve gotten to describing the feeling 🤷♀️
Any time now…any moment now, I will wake up to a whole new world, glittering beneath me like stars, constellations.
There is something about this term I adore : voyaging under the cover of night, wearing midnight on your back like a hooded cape encrusted with stars (stars, stars, stars everywhere in my vision, these days). Something about it is simply so delightfully secretive, an endless source of wonder. What could happen in the night, I ask myself, that the morning would know nothing of?
2 a.m. escapades to the city come to mind. When you and I burst out of a stuffy apartment filled with the moisture of summer and emerged into the fresh breath of night running down the streets. Hushed laughter, messy hair and pyjama bottoms made their way to one of those shops that are always open, no matter the time of night or day. The sound of fritters sizzling quietly in oil filled the night as we whispered for fear of breaking some sacred silence.
Night flight is…
Stumbling out of a club flashing all shades of colours, the walls outside booming, shaking with music. And us, drunk on nothing but adrenaline and freedom, waving our arms out of the car window, swinging and swerving around the scenery. Do you remember how we tried to grab fistfuls of the night to not let it turn into day? We wished ardently for the night not to slip from our fingers like sands of Time. So we grabbed onto night’s sleeve so that it would not turn into the day, but it did.
And now, I am simply counting the days. 8 to go until my night flight, my covert adventures. 8 days to go until I have the night for a companion. 8 days left until I somehow go right through the glass of the plane window reflecting my awed expression from the other side. And I will find myself floating next to the stars that have guided me all through my childhood, to my darkest days, to now.
“How lovely it is to finally meet you.” I will say to the stars.
To be able to graze them, even when separated by thick metal layers and engines, what an absolute privilege will that be.
I understand now why people call celebrities “stars” — they shine brightly and are so unattainable, yet so beautiful from afar, from where we gaze up at them from the gutter. I’m afraid that perhaps I am a little more old-fashioned and prefer the original kind of “star” — a fireball burning beautifully into the night, kindling the dreams of every dreamer of a child.
“For all the times I couldn’t, I want to feel the night combing its fingers through my hair, arranging it into an artful mess filled with stars and visions of worlds I am not yet aware of.”
These days, I am always out when the sun sets. Riding a bus, navigating through beaches and plains, cities and forgotten villages. I am out there when the sun sets, when the first neon lights come to life, crackling, blinking. When the street food vendors set up their stalls, preparing for the night’s work. I see them, women and men, faces lit by the artificial glow of a light bulb hanging overhead, waiting well into the night, alone.
I am out when the first star lights up the juvenile night. When the sun, in its last breaths, gives out an orange glow met halfway by darkness, cutting the horizon in half — turning the swaying trees into darkened silhouettes.
I am there, by a window always, in that darkened bus and its cold seats, where the rest of the passengers are quietly living poetry of their own, too. I crane my neck back, head pressed against the cool glass of the open window. I can never bring myself to close it fully. For all the times I couldn’t, I want to feel the night combing its fingers through my hair, arranging it into an artful mess filled with stars and visions of worlds I am not yet aware of.
I watch the night unravel, from the beaches, where a lone fisherman finally reels back his line, through the plains, cold and soothing, over the small lake, the one named “Solitude”, and through the village, to the fields.
We’re all going home, I think, as we pass by houses lit warmly from the inside. From inside the now still bus, my skin can almost taste that warmth, sink into it. But it is not really that kind of warmth I crave. There is warmth that has nothing to do with temperature or freezing fingers, and everything to do with the heart.
“Makes you want to go home, doesn’t it?”
The driver once commented, as we had stopped to let a stream of passengers out.
Quietly I said yes, yes it does. We did not speak after that, but I feel we understood each other, in a way. After all, there is a world out there only we know. A world of people in transit, waiting to get home, crossing worlds together to get there.
And in a way, in that strange, human way, the bus itself becomes a temporary safe place. We are all aware of each other, because there’s only ever a handful of us, at some point. We all look at who gets down where, even mumble goodbyes and wave tired hands. We all wish it was us, some of us out loud. When it’s pitch-black at the end of the night and you’re on a bus, you don’t wear a mask — you let the tiredness and the homesickness show.
The bus drones on for a while, the scenery passes, and so do the people. Life goes on, but not really, for me, for us. We are in transit, suspended somewhere between earth and sky.
When my turn to leave comes, when I finally see that bustop sign gleaming under the light of a streetlamp, I sigh softly. I smile at the driver and say goodbye, naturally, as though he is someone I have known for a while. And he watches to see that I’ve made it out safely. I, too, watch as the bus rides on into the night, to that darkened road that leads to the stars, and more importantly, home.
Note : I hope you have all been doing well! Fingers crossed the blog will be more active in June. Looking for this gif, I also stumbled upon this wonderful post, which details a scene from the movie this piece is inspired by amazingly well.
There is a scent of vanilla floating in the cold, damp night.
And a warmth like a fireplace beckoning me over. One by one, everyone is pulled out of their rooms like moths to a flame.
If the kitchen was warm before, it is much warmer now with all these bodies so close together.
Without warning, the stove is on and the smells of tea and hot chocolate are suffusing the air. If it was almost uncomfortably warm before, the kitchen is now sweltering. Nevertheless, hot mugs are being passed around. Chatter is lighting the small kitchen up.
And the cake that brought everyone here in the first place is being sliced, the delicate fumes wafting in the air.
And as I take all this in: these content faces, the gentle laughs, the simple happiness of it, all I can think is how long until this all ends?
If the kitchen was sweltering before, it is much colder now.