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An ode to late nights

At this point, no one is complaining about lockdown. We’re handling delayed Amazon deliveries with ease, we’re cleaning up after ourselves, we have at least three video conferencing apps downloaded on our phones.

We’re no longer using this time indoors to write our next book, or work on that project we’ve been putting off. We’re simply doing all we can to recover from day after day of bad news. We’re reeling under the weight of sickness and death; so buried in this new routine that we’ve lost track of how much the goalpost has shifted. I only remember, when I watch an old sitcom that makes fun of germophobic people who always stay indoors and panic when the pizza delivery guy comes too close, that we’ve collectively been in crisis mode for far too long.

I find solace in the nights. It’s 3 am. The roads are empty, it’s raining a little. I see a stray car every now and then and wonder who this person is or what gave them the audacity to trespass in my time zone without my permission.

My house is quiet. I’m not pausing to check my phone obsessively, terrified that I’ve missed a deadline or forgotten to reply to someone who needed something. My creative juices are flowing, deadlines don’t feel as pressing. I’m finally in control of my time.

Thank you, Internet, for ruining the romanticism of late nights with the term revenge bedtime procrastination. Whenever I want to write an ode to the hours filled with music and movies, fairy lights and fast-moving to-do lists, I can only think of the fact that I’m just another anxious millennial who can’t manage her waking hours well enough, and will do anything to find a moment of productivity – even if that means permanently messing up her sleep cycle.

I’ll be honest, it’s hard to find anything to be grateful for at this time. I hope I don’t look back at my time indoors 20 years later, with a goofy smile and a story about how it was great to slow down. Because no one was slowing down. Everyone was trying to swim against a tidal wave of death announcements, trying to process one loss before another came along inevitably. Everyone was obsessing about at least one thing – whether it was raising a child with generational trauma or speaking to grandparents far away, desperately trying to make them understand the seriousness of the situation.

There’s no way to paint this as a nice time. But, I suppose, we’re wired to look for at least one thing about the day that makes us want to wake up to the next. And my nights alone? They’re mine.

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