It feels like magic. The morning after staying up late for something special has a transcendent quality to it. You can almost touch the veil. Now, for me it’s an admittedly low bar. I get up around 3:00 a.m. most days, so “late” is when I venture past about 8:00 p.m. And I don’t mean for a board meeting where you’re trying to solve the problems of the world. No, I mean staying up for something you anticipate. Or even if it’s something you experience only by association. I had to pick somebody up in Easton after an evening event recently. It wasn’t over until after I’m normally asleep, but I made plans to hole up in Dunkin’ Donuts and perhaps even sip a coffee if I had to, for the drive home.
This was a Tuesday night so most businesses were closed. After parking the car I found out that Dunkin’ wasn’t keeping evening hours either. I try always to travel with a book. The one thing I learned from my brief stint in Boy Scouts was “be prepared.” With no Dunkin’ the only places open were bars and clubs. Thankfully it was a warm evening, so I found a free bit of curb on which to sit to read my book. Easton’s a college town so young people were out and about. It was good to see other folks enjoying life. Then a woman stopped and leaned down. She was looking at the cover of my book. “Just wondering what you’re reading,” she said. “I’m always on the look out for something good.”
I can’t recall the last time a stranger struck up a conversation with me. Especially about literature. I was reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved (more anon) and she asked what it was about. (You, dear reader, will need to wait a few more days if you don’t already know.) I told her as best I could in a sentence or two, but I was in shock that someone I didn’t know was taking a moment out of her busy life to ask me about a book. Her companion was ready to get going, so she left. Shortly after that the event ended and I picked up my charge and headed home. The next morning had that magic feeling. I slept later than normal although it was a work day and when I went for my morning walk a startled bald eagle took off from the ground and flew less than twenty feet over my head. Staying up late, talking about books, and a dawn-time walk in the morning. Even everyday life can be magical, when it’s rare enough.