Thursday, July 7, 2011

Past Midnight Memories

I have always loved my town late at night. I drove my parents to the airport for their morning flight and had to leave my house about 3:30. It gave me a flashback to when I was 14.

I babysat a little girl named Bree, whose single mother worked the night shift as a nurse. Her 18 year old nephew would get in from his job at around 1am and he'd rollerblade with me home. This was a fairly regular job, yet I can't quite remember how the logistics worked that had me flying down the sidewalk as fast as my 8 wheeled feet could take me, pushing a little faster in an unspoken competition with Will, arms out for balance and flight.

During this empty time between night and morning, as I rolled down the windows and breathed in the humid aftermath of the dust storm, I went back to that place. There is a faint hiss that blends into the background of hearing because it is natural, if foreign. A deep breathe identifies its accompanying coolness as sprinklers hitting the grass, the past midnight watering making the most of the precious water. It's a combination of smell and sound that can't exist seperately. The other sounds of the city are quiet but magnified. A car passing, an electric light buzzing.

I look at the stop lights and street lights and see the added halo that comes when your body says sleep, but your force of will says awake. There is a certain commradery between those who are stopped at the same red light as you, a closeness that comes from sharing the secrets the city tells when everyone else is sleeping. I wonder who the drivers are, and what brings them out on the street with me. Are they nurses getting off shift? Are they construction workers reporting to their site? Are they ending their night by choice or are they forced into starting their day? Whomever they are, we are all strangely bound together, just by being on this bridge between cello evenings and ukelele mornings.

As I drive home the sun starts to light up the horizon. The magic of the moment doesn't lift off like mist. This is the desert. It burns off. What's left is dry and raw. The horizon is washed out and blurry, like the commuters beginning to follow it. The rhythmic clunk of rollerblades over the sidewalk is just an echo of an old memory.

But minutes pass, the sun keeps rising.

It looks like it will be a beautiful day.


Katie said...

I love how you write!

Jackijo said...

Beautiful imagery, I can just picture it, almost like a dream.

For two years I delivered a weekly paper in which I got up at 3 or 4 to get some of it done before I had to come home to get the waking kids to take with me to finish the job. That time of day (night?) has a special feel to it. And one thing that always puzzled me was that no matter how early I started there was always somebody up, cars were about and a few people would be walking around the neighborhoods.

Elena said...

That was beautiful sister

ACW said...

My sister, the poet. Best line: the cello evenings to the ukelele mornings. Perfect.

jeanene c said...

I remember similar feelings when I would get off of work at 3 AM. I think that is part of the reason I so often stay up late. I love the quiet and the sense of everything being asleep around me.
When Bashas was open all night, I would stop for milk and I tried to get them to start a 'Free at 3' campaign but no go.
Thanks for the ride by the way. You can't ask just anyone to do that kind of favor.


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