I have always had questions about the night. Where does it begin? Where does it end? Is night just darkness, and if so is it night when you close your eyes?
November 1965, 2:07 am
The rocker gently squeaks as mama stares at me through blurry eyes. I lay in her arms with my mouth slack and milk dribbling down my dimpled chin. With an exhausted sigh, she rises and arranges me in the cradle. Just as she tucks the last blanket around me, I open my eyes. They are bright, inquisitive and not the least bit sleepy. Mama groans and sprawls in the chair. In the morning she will write in my baby book, "Oh P Lina, how intense you stare at me with your huge blue eyes. I wonder, will you EVER learn to sleep at night?"
July 1970 2:32 am
My family snores as Daddy drives us down I-5 towards home. I lean over the seat, my eyes missing nothing. The hot summer air gusts in the window, bringing me the scents of honeysuckles, blackberries and scorched earth. We round the hill and there like diamonds on a jeweler's velvet, the light of Grants Pass sparkle. I catch my breath and wonder why we waste this magical time sleeping.
February 1972, 2:45 am
I toss this way and that, fighting the blankets. I hear his boots as he comes up the stairs two at a time. Clump-clump-clump. I know what he is here for!
"Come see your new brother!" he exclaims.
I eagerly bound downstairs as daddy wakes my siblings. Baby R________, still coated in vernix, is laying on mama's stomach. His thin lips quiver as he tries out his new voice. My older brother and I fight over who will get to cut his umbilical cord.
December 1974, 2:23 am
I stand there eating his cookies and drinking his milk, while I contemplate my next move. The tinsel on the tree shivers as our cat slinks under the branches sniffing the presents. I muse and wipe the crumbs on the couch. I set about switching tags. Surely Santa meant for me to have the red scooter.
November 1975, 2:34 am
I help Mama slide the turkey into the oven. the dim kitchen smells of sage, pepper and onions. My hands quiver as I shut the door and peer through the little glass window. Mama yawns and wipes her hands on her red quilt robe. "go back to sleep" she whispers. The excitement I feel comes bubbling to the surface and my laughter echoes through the stillness. Mama turns back and with a resigned sigh, leaves me to the night.
August 1979, 2:57 am
The howl of the night wind rouses and bids me to come outside. My long dark hair dances with the shadows as I prance silently through the puddles of moonlight. I linger under the clothes line to savor the aroma of sun-dried towels. Am I alone in the darkness this blustery night? Wheeling out under the rich black sky, I shed my nightgown and streak with the meteorites as they tumble from the heavens.
June 1983, 2:19 pm
"P we have a position open on night shift, would you be interested?" The director of nurses inquires.
Getting paid for staying up all night? Oh please don't torture me so!
October 1990, 2:00 am
Been working graveyard shift for seven years. On my night off I drive to Riverside Park. Under the eerie round luminous lights, I noisily wade through the crunchy oak leaves. I slip down to the edge of the muddy, fast moving, Rogue. Night's enormity intrigues me, I am humbly awed. I don't want a kingdom that is only as far as the eye can see. I want one that extends to the edges of the night!
April 1998, 2:51 am
Been working nights now 15 years. I am at home in this upside down life. My co-workers fight the mid-shift nods, but as always my eyes are bright, inquisitive and not the least bit sleepy. No mama, I laugh, the answer to your question is no. There is just way too much night out there for me to explore.
(c) 5-1998 P. R.