On Night

Written by Mike Parish, Illustrated by Dan Tarnowski
On Night

Since I’ve moved to the city, I’ve noticed that there’s no real night here. Sure they say New York is the city that never sleeps, but that’s not what I mean.

There’s so much light pollution here it’s incredible. After I shut off my lamp and my eyes adjust to the dark of the bedroom, I can see exceptionally well. So well, in fact, that I read books in bed at night with the lights out to save on electricity.

My understanding of night is that it’s supposed to be pitch black; I want to question the fact that I’m still alive I want it to be so dark. Here, it’s like the whole world is a dimmer switch idling on low. I look out my window and there are no stars. It must be the concentration of people and their porch lights and all the traffic signals and crosswalk hands blinking on indefinitely throughout the night.

I see now what inspired the blue interiors of Bill Harford’s early morning apartment in Stanley Kubrick’s, Eyes Wide Shut. Every time I see that movie, I want to live in that blue light and cuddle with Nicole Kidman. That would be the greatest night’s rest. That’s what nighttime’s for anyway, right? Sleep? What even is nighttime, if nothing but the absence of the sun’s light?

Night, like day, is a necessary part of life. It’s perfect. Nighttime is what you get when you live on a planet and have a life. It is a time to repair and dream and await the approach of the morning light.

Nighttime is supposed to be when everything and everybody calms down. We’re all subject to the schedules of the moon and the sun and the earth’s spinning whether we like it or not. But an interesting form of rebellion into and against the night is the bar scene and “clubbing” life.

One wonders what really keeps that whole enterprise going: it is a vehicle fueled by alcohol. Without that, the whole thing would stop dead or in the very least interest a lot less people.

I guess there’s always sex. This is the only sensible reason the bar scene can be called “night life.” The very idea of the activity of going out at night seems directly opposed to life especially when working under the framework that rest is something that all living things need.

No doubt, night life is an ironic and fascinating phenomenon. But now I’m starting to think that night life isn’t so ironic. If gangster movies and violent video games have taught me anything, it’s that when you’re about to kill somebody, it’s always in your best interest to declare a euphemism, like, “Lights out, kid,” or “Time to say g’night, Charlie.” In these instances, nighttime and darkness equate death. I don’t know about you, but when I lay me down to sleep, the farthest thoughts from my mind are ones involving death.*

*(Once, when I was five or six, I cried all night when I realized that someday, I was going to die. Dying would be forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and I actually remember laying in bed under the glow of my nightlight and reciting this to my mom until the words made no sense to me. I suddenly thought that was funny and started laughing, associating death with being funny because it made no sense. Since then, I fall asleep most days like a puppy that’s raced around the park all day. Serene and quiet, we all go out and into the night.)

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