Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The night of the insomniac

Last night, after the remnants of my husband’s goodnight hug and kiss began to fade and his peaceful snoring commenced, I realized sleep would again elude me and so I ventured out into the night. Walking around after most of the city has gone to sleep provides a certain sense of calm. The warm breeze, the porch lights left on for the stragglers after the “responsibles” have gone to bed, the silence of resting cars lining the neighborhood streets.

I think of the couples snuggling up next to each other while the hum of the air conditioning lulls them into dreams. New mothers taking well deserved cat naps before the next middle of the night feedings commence. The insomniacs, like me, who refuse to leave the confines of their bedrooms and see and experience the nighttime world. I think of all of these characters and more as I walk the streets in silence.

I came across a man sitting in a lawn chair on the roof of a garage. He was wearing headphones- could’ve been listening to a old Joy Division tune, could’ve been Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Who knows? He had his long neck bottle positioned between his legs and a bee bee rifle strung across his lap. I am not sure what he was hunting, but he was definitely focused on the kill. He sat there a long time surveying the area through his site while I looked on. I wonder how he came to the decision to sit up on that garage roof half past midnight in pursuit of whatever it was that he needed to maim or kill. What kind of mission he was on? Was it something internal? Was he just a rat vigilante? I never got my opportunity to ask.

While watching the “Alleyway Hunter,” I was approached by Joshua, an artist from the outskirts of Rockford. He was a bit disheveled wearing a blue and white stripped boating shirt and a Disneyland flower printed hat. He was sweating profusely even in the breezy night air. His hair was a mess and he had been drinking some. His shorts pockets contained various size and colored crayons. Although he was quick to cut the night by speaking, his appearance and demeanor quickly dispelled any initial threat of harm that can come from an unknown.

His plan was to finish the sketch he had started earlier that evening. He proudly showed me the beginnings of the sun god he was drawing. What he lacked in technique he made up in creativity and unabashed ease that he exuded when he plopped himself down on the ground to finish his masterpiece.

He told me he had been politely kicked out of his friend’s apartment while his friend’s roommate spent some alone time with his girlfriend. He talked of his adventures in the city and quickly surveyed his past loves. We parted ways when he tried to turn his bungled charm on me.

“I am married” I explained, “I am not interested.”

He gracefully accepted my rejection to his verbal advances, and I continued on my way into the shadowed quiet streets alone, back home to my sleeping husband.