Tonight, my faceless friend, you have beaten me.
From my window I can see the dark place upon your upper floor, where, on so many nights, I have seen your curtained lamplight winking back at me. At times, it has been the last light I have seen before I first close my eyes, and, at others, it has been one that I’ve been envious to see you turn off at a “reasonable” hour. But, in this moment, reflecting on the black window across the way, there is no envy or disdain, and only a small smile has appeared to play across my face. Because, my Night-Owl neighbor, I, if no one else, know that work is the least of our worries when one of our two lights remain on.
To outsiders, we are crazed, sleepless vampires who drink the blood of moonlight and most assuredly must have skin that burns in the day. To those who care about us, we are the patients suffering from a lack of sleep, and an addiction to starlight and exhaustion. But, to those who truly feel our burden, to those who know our pain, we are the soldiers who fight the wars that never occur in sight of sunlight’s rays.
We fight the monsters from under beds who grew up to gain the faces and names of heartbreakers, who turn given love into pain. And we fight with the weapons of consoling shoulders and kind words, while we answer their tearful questions with the second-nature reply that tiredness doesn’t affect us, as they continue to cry.
We fight the uncertainties of the future that surface when the sun goes down, bringing with them the end of a day and the question of how many we will get. We face the fear in our friends’ eyes and ease them with the secrets of the stars; showing them how, even when the light twinkles out, they still burned so brightly for their time that even the skies a thousand years away remember their place, their size, and their name.
We fight against the want to surrender felt by all-nighter paper writers, armed only with caffeine and their chargers. We fight against the restlessness of the nighttime walkers, whose minds have moved so quickly, that their bodies could only keep up by moving too. And we fight against the ticking of the clock, whose every movement marks another second never to be taken back, as the threat of dawn draws ever nearer to changing our black and star-filled sky to a dark and empty blue.
But, my friend, you and I know it true. Although we fight all of these demons in those around us, night after night, the fight for ourselves only begins when we finally reach our beds. After all, how can it ever be enough to escape the cold grip of living through our work, when we still are plagued by the haunting memories of our souls, as we try desperately to drift off to the warmth of sleep?
I’ve told it true in everything that I’ve said. I am truly glad that you have crossed the finish line of being able to turn out the light, but I salute you my comrade, and wish you luck, and I hope you will wish me well too. Because, though we are but a lit or darkened window to each other, we share the struggle that comes in conjunction with our path, though not led by sunlight, we are brothers on the run, being hunted by the troubles of the midnight hour, long since passed.