Night Journeys

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There’s something intoxicating about the darkness. I used to love being outside in the middle of the night, alone with myself and the world. You can hear the quiet. The dark made me feel free and alive.

I used to get in the car and just drive around. No purpose. No destination. Just the freedom to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Part of me felt like I was on some sort of secret mission. I’d always wanted to be a spy. I think I would’ve been good at it.

One night after a party, my friend and I decided to go wandering around town. We actually wanted to see if two of our friends were secretly seeing each other. Instead of taking the quickest, shortest route, we strolled along the greenbelt and behind the houses. We snuck through apartment parking lots, sticking to the shadows as much as possible. When we got back to the street, we walked as far from the streetlights as we could.

He was sober and indulging my desire to act like an idiot. I was drunk and enjoying a few moments of silliness, an escape from the seriousness and melancholy that was always hanging over me. Walking past a car with fogged up windows, we realized we were right about our two friends. We thought we had gotten past the car without being seen. Then the horn blared and I jumped straight up in the air. We had been seen. My drunkeness saved us from having our real motive discovered.

Other times, I found myself driving around my hometown in the middle of the night. I could do this without question, without anyone worrying about where I was. Nobody even knew I was in town. I’d drive past houses of  friends, rivals, ex-boyfriends. Many I hadn’t seen or talked to in years. But I wanted to know what they were like, what they were doing. The darkness was the perfect camoflauge. Nobody was expecting me. Nobody would see me. I could be just as invisible to them in the darkness as I was to them in the light.

But the darkness gave me the advantage. I wasn’t vulnerable in the dark. If you don’t know I’m there, you can’t hurt me. Ignoring me in the dark is expected. It was being ignored in the light that hurt. What was I looking for in these expeditions? I honestly have no clue. Maybe I was looking to gain some power. Find out some secret that would make me feel a little less insignificant. I wouldn’t use it. But knowing it would put us on equal footing. You aren’t better than me. You might act like it, but you are just as flawed, just as insecure.

More than anything, I wanted the freedom I felt during those nights. I had no responsibility to anyone. I wasn’t accountable to anybody. I was free to be my own person, doing whatever I felt I needed to do. No expectations. No limitations. No compromises. No fear.

I was myself in the dark. I didn’t have to hide who I was or what I wanted because the curtains of night did it for me. The night offered solace that I could not find in the blinding light of the day. The daylight exposed too much. Insecurities. Fears. Weaknesses. I had expectations piled on me during the day. I could not be myself. I was accountable to people. In the light, I had to make compromises that took small pieces of my soul away. The day was my prison.

I can’t take those night journeys now. Too many responsibilities. Too many people I’m accountable to. Too many compromises that take away pieces of my soul. My freedom is gone. The night is now just as oppressing as the day.

Sleep is my solace now. And the only night journeys I can take are in my dreams.

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