There is something amount midnights that is magical, standing in the relative dark, staring at the sky and the stars. I had never truly seen a midnight before coming to university, often sent to bed by strict parents so that I could get enough sleep for school. They were witching hours back then, watching the clock as willed yourself to sleep, listening for every crack that seemed to sound like a foreign spirit walking the house. At this point I knew that I could not sleep, that if I closed my eyes that spirit that seems to only come out at night would find me and do terrible things. I wasn't sure what kind of things, but I had heard the on the news about wash-up, unclaimed bodies and I could only think that I was next. I would bury myself in my blankets and just hope that it would provide camouflage. Later as adolescence turned on a slow path to maturity, midnights became sleepovers specialty, where everyone would pledge to see dawn, but would end up falling asleep among laughter and sugar before light could emerge. It was a mysterious time that would cause a stupor to fall across the room, as we would realize that we were up much past our bed times. We felt grown up, free, as we giggled over cute boys in class and in the movies. Soon, as years past and time seemed to be decreasing, midnights were something that was seem only when working on impossible assignments, hunch over putting the finishing touches on some diorama for class. It would be around midnight when you would lock at the clock and yawn, packing your things up and head to bed.
In university, you could say, I took back the night. It was the first week of school that I saw my first true midnight, staying up late and talking to those I had only recently met. We had all spoken a little during orientation and had all been drawn together based on the fact that none of us were attending the formal in the universities cafeteria. I had watched as girls raced up and down the halls in the hours before the dance, fixing their hair and makeup, donning a disguise of hopeful beauty, all giggling with friends about the possibility of the night. I myself had not been invited to the formal as I was an engineer, female, but still an engineer and therefore was not aloud to the Arts and Science formal that everyone was buzzing about. The others that I hung out with were four boys on my floor, another engineer and three arts students that did not wish to participate in the social situations of a formal.
We played frisbee instead, meeting other random people hiding from the onslaught of heels and loud vibrating music. We skittered around, chasing an ever vanishing Frisbee that seemed to melt into the dark, our laughter ringing out into the night. It was there on that cool grass that I finally found that life at midnight, as the fears about the upcoming year seemed to melt into the distance and I enjoyed, for what felt like the first time in a while, life. There were no due dates, worries about school, friends or work, just mingling with strangers that seemed to becoming a little more familiare.
Later we trudged down to a grassy strip in front of the lake, laying down and staring up into the night speaking about the world, politics, and life. Conversations that I could only imagine having in university, ones that were intelligent and full of meaning,
Grown-up, scholarly conversation.
Just me and those four boys that I have gotten to know over the year I spent living in that residence. I watched one struggle with himself, trying to come to grips with who he is as he spins political and social theories through our heads, trying to define a society that seems to sometimes confuse him. Another I have since stopped speaking too after watching him desecrate a close friend by cheating on her with another. The third I have gone on to live with and see every day, often trading jokes and stories about strange classmates and professors. The final one I ended up dating, and I still am, because we somehow understand each other as we are both a little odd.
I have since seen many midnights, both in laughter and in tears, as I stroll the dark streets with friends or work on unforgiving assignments. It is a time that changes at every stage in your life, but it will always be romantic and most importantly, mine.