I’ve had one of those nights. Disrupted weekend nights are all too common in my new urban, downtown home. When I moved in, the proud property manager informed me that one of my neighbors is a local media persona. This meant nothing to me, having just moved across the country and knowing virtually no one in the city.
Six days after I moved in, however, the person in question had an all-night, high–decibel, revolving-door party in his place, which happens to be right above my bedroom. It took tremendous willpower to entrust my safety to the integrity of the building structure that night!
Hours ticked by and at 0300 I’d had enough. With a frustrated huff, I shot upright and dragged my mattress into the living room, trying to escape the ruckus which had now robbed me of many hours of sleep. This party continued unabaited until 0530! Yes, 5:30 AM.
I’ve come to approach weekends with some trepidation, wondering whether I should camp elsewhere or hope for the best. While the scene has improved somewhat, this past night again brought an end to sleep. All had been still when I stretched out after a long week of work and closed my eyes. I breathed deeply, relishing the peace which was interrupted only by the occasional, plaintive call of a train. But this changed sometime after 0100 – not sure when, as I was in nighttime denial. Mr Celebrity had returned, rumbled up one flight of stairs and turned on his TV, which could have provided entertainment for me as well, had I been so inclined. Evidently my partying neighbor then fell asleep, but his programming carried on.
That’s when the night became something other than it had been previous nights. I began thinking of other sleep interruptions, disturbances, nighttime uncertainties. My thoughts joined the millions who are afraid when night falls, never sure whether they will greet the dawn from the same bed they lay down in. I thought about those who usually share living space with someone who was picked up by immigration officials and held for questioning today. Or yesterday. What was going through their hearts right now? I worried about the mother who has been a manual laborer for years, just to give her two daughters a fighting chance at safety and freedom? What about her? And the classrooms of children who were urged to pass on written information to their parents, helping them to understand how to protect their families. I could not shake thoughts of the fear that suffocates people
These raids, going on while I (try to) sleep, should be happening elsewhere, I reasoned. Not here. Faulty thinking, admittedly! It’s not a new concept that only some are free. It seems, even existing freedoms are being narrowed drastically – somehow reserved for a specific slice of humanity who have made the rules, and then decide if and when they will keep them, insulating their brand of existence from scrutiny. Bravery is shown by many! Certainly by those who, all of their lives, have fought a set of circumstances that I know nothing about. Nothing . They have been squeezed and threatened in ways unfathomable to me – forced to trade one set of dangers and uphill battles for another, never asking for more than an opportunity for peace.
This is how people I do not know came to flood my nighttime mind: children, mothers, grandmothers, fathers, workers, teachers. Fear flooded faces, tears of terror, whispers of uncertainty.
So, I’ve had one of those nights. And yet not. My disruptions are minimal by comparison. My focus needs to be outward – to disturbances of peace that go on outside of my deserved white night’s rest.
© Julia Penner-Zook, 2017