Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Addicted to The Midnight Hour

The Midnight Hour - The Commitments (mp3)

For a brief while I felt a little guilty about my late nights of self-enforced solitude in the confines of my own home.

"Nothing good happens after midnight," one friend is fond of saying. She mostly means her child(ren). She also kinda sorta means adults, too. But she doesn't say it out loud because she doesn't want to sound as judgmental about it as she actually is.

Another friend puts it differently: "When I'm up alone after 11 p.m., I find myself doing a lot of things that aren't ultimately all that healthy."

For the record, as I type these very words, it's 12:27 a.m. I am not at present touching myself, nor have I at any point in the current 24-hour cycle. I am not looking at inappropriate pictures or reading inappropriate things. I am not communicating with anyone the former Elin Woods would find cause to beat in my windshield with a golf club, nor am I engaged in any form of high-stakes illegal betting. I'm neither manufacturing nor participating in any sort or kind of illegal substances.

It's 12:31 a.m., and I'm doing nothing all that terribly wrong.

That's not always the case, mind you. No sense in getting into which particular options might, on occasion, land on my late-night radar screen, you cheeky monkeys you. I just ain't no cherub, is what I'm sayin'.

At times, I have been incredibly conflicted about all this. About my almost chemical dependence on nocturnal independence. About the fact that, no matter how late my wife stays up to be by my side and experience late-night life with me, I must stay up another one or two hours later.

It has helped to learn I'm not alone. There's millions of us out there. I recently had the opportunity to hear my boss express, almost word for word, the very explanation I myself have for this need. He, too, it would seem, suffers from this affliction, this addiction, this need to have solitude prior to slumber.

And, in truth, I write this not merely because I'm awake at 1 a.m., but because circumstances around people I know have just yesterday served to remind me that we all carry burdens and mysteries that even our best friends can rarely fathom unless it's written to them in big 50-font print.  That whole "quiet desperation" thing is just flat-out universal, my friends, and if you don't know you're quietly desperate, just hang out a little longer, and it'll come to you.

My mother, my wife, and several other women I know and respect seem to savor and prefer the early-morning solitude. I don't mean to make this a gender issue, because I know a few guys who prefer the 5 a.m. wake-up to the 1 a.m. bedtime, but for me the inclination does divide largely along gender lines... yet I think the product and the motive is ultimately the same. My mom, my wife, theyt wake up and greet a happier day if they earn just a few minutes, maybe a half an hour, where they can gather themselves without the burden of other duties, without the distraction of obligation to something other than just waking themselves up.

For me, I need the right to put myself to sleep. To sing my own lullaby. To watch or listen to or play whatever I need to get my mind calmed down. And I just can't seem to do any of that very well with other people around. (Unless I'm really good 'n' drunk. Which is hardly a kind of practice I want to make too terribly regular. Certainly not more regular than it already is, thankee very much.)

I love -- no, I need -- the Midnight Hour. Sometimes it comes at midnight, but not always. The Midnight Hour isn't a moment on the clock. It's a tipping point in the caverns of your being that tells you to call it a night, that in fact begs and ultimately demands you to do so.

Just you and I.

Written under the precise level of intoxication required to think a post using the words "I" and "me" almost 500 times would somehow express something larger than merely an unhealthy obsession with the author's own sense of self-awesomeness.


cinderkeys said...

I"m the same way.

Except that it never occurred to me to feel guilty about it.

John said...

Super post, Billy. I wish I'd read this at 3:31 this morning, which is within four minutes either way of when I've been waking up the past several weeks. Today was the first day of school for both me and the girls and so I got us all in bed early so we could head to a local dive for breakfast pre-school. That part worked, mostly, but at 11:40 I was up watching Colbert, back down at 12:20, and then back up at 3:30. A colleague of mine has been known to say, "you know why you can't sleep? You have sin in your life." Which is undoubtedly true. But which I'm unclear as to the origins of my insomnia. I just like being up in an empty dark house. I bet there's an army of us out there....

Daisy said...

Me too! Me too! I used to think I was genetically incapable of going to bed before midnight. I now know I am capable, I just don't like it. I can be beyond tired at 7:00, but by 10 I beging to come alive. STaying up late truly in an addiction for me. The more I do it the more I crave it.

Great post!

Billy said...

@cinder - Just go to church a lot. Seriously, you'll feel guilty a whole lot more about anything and everything.

@John - You, my friend, are one of the men who do the early-morning thing. No doubt. And is it possible that the whole "sin in your life" comment can be true and utterly irrelevant at the same time?

@daisy - Yes, it's very much a second wind thing for me, too. At 9, I'm usually bleary-eyed. By 10, I'm too damned alert to sleep. And whenever I go to sleep before 11, I end up waking up in a semi-panic at 3 or 4 a.m. As if my body is punishing me for going to bed too soon.

troutking said...

Apparently Bruce feels the same way:

You get up every morning at the sound of the bell
You get to work late and the boss man's giving you hell
Till you're out on a midnight run
Losing your heart to a beautiful one
And it feels right as you lock up the house
Turn out the lights and step out into the night
And the world is busting at its seams
And you're just a prisoner of your dreams
Holding on for your life `cause you work all day
To blow `em away in the night

BeckEye said...

I'm kind of the same as Daisy. Some days I'll be so tired, but I'm worried that if I go to bed at 8, I won't sleep through the night. So I force myself to stay awake until 10, and by then I have a 2nd wind, which keeps me up and screwing around on the Internet until 2 am. And then I'm super tired in the morning and the cycle continues until Saturday, when I end up sleeping for like 12 hours to pay back my sleep debt.