Ticking On and On
A Writer’s Book of Days (01/13) – After Midnight
“After midnight” means different things to different places. If I were to step outside my front door after midnight, I’d experience the eerie calm of a bedroom community sleeping. There aren’t many cars on the road. House lights click off one by one. You can hear sounds from miles away – a Long Island Railroad train in the distance, traffic driving down Sunrise Highway, an ambulance racing towards Southside Hospital, a dog barking. It’s peaceful, but often times unsettling.
It’s like the world’s heartbeat has gone silent and I need to know it’s alive. Sometimes I feel slightly unnerved as I walk the block home from the train station, past the dark apartment complex and houses. There are people inside of those houses, but it doesn’t feel like there’s life. The only movement is from the 7-Eleven on the corner.
One of the most interesting ways to experience that time of day is to spend an entire night in Manhattan. Lexcie and I did that two summers ago. Our trip started late in the evening, and ended when I boarded a 7 am train back to Long Island. Some neighborhoods are like my own – quiet streets, no cars, and perhaps some boat horns in the distance. Times Square is almost like a casino – you’d couldn’t tell if it was 9 pm or 1 am with all the people milling about. Diners were packed with barflies and people ending late shifts at 3 am, while the Staten Island Ferry was surprisingly packed for 4 am. It’s certainly the city that never sleeps.
Although it was the heartbeat I was looking for, I felt something was also unsettling about the constant movement. Would I give up the eerie, yet peaceful silence of a bedroom community for this? I’ve yet to find that happy medium.