“There is no night life in Spain. They stay up late but they get up late. That is not night life. That is delaying the day. Night life is when you get up with a hangover in the morning. Night life is when everybody says what the hell and you do not remember who paid the bill. Night life goes round and round and you look at the wall to make it stop. Night life comes out of a bottle and goes into a jar. If you think how much are the drinks it is not night life.”
~ Ernest Hemingway, 88 Poems
I had a small adventure last night.
I drove ten minutes to a girlfriend’s apartment in town and then we took a short stroll to a charming Lebanese restaurant around the corner for an early dinner.
Do you know how many years it has been since I have ventured out at night on my own?
I forget sometimes how much Lyme disease has diminished my life. I’ve learned to live happily within a very small box. So small in fact, that I have become quite distanced and disconnected from things I once took for granted. I counted it. Twelve years. Twelve years since I have been out at night like this on my own to meet a friend for dinner.
Mind you, I didn’t think about that as I drove to my friend’s place. I was too busy concentrating on getting driving right. On listening to the twangy voice on my iPhone navigating me through the streets I once knew by heart. On hoping that parking would be easy and that my brain would work well enough to position the car without disgracing myself. Ben usually drives unless I’m having a very good day. I have not driven a car alone at night for some time. It makes me anxious as a learner.
When I socialise it is usually over breakfast, while I am fresh and have some energy. It’s coffee outings at early-morning cafes, if I am going out at all. By day’s end I am in my pyjamas, I eat early, meditate and retire.
So last night?
It was still an early night by most people’s standards. I met my friend at six. By nine-thirty my night was over, and I drove homewards through Brisbane’s city streets and Fortitude Valley. I was a time-traveller sitting in the safe bubble of my car, my hands clenched tight to the steering wheel. Outside, my usual daytime vista was rendered unrecognisable. Bright lights obscured familiar landmarks. It was as if the world was on a strange tilt.
The restaurants I know only by early morning passings had been transformed from upturned chairs and empty windows to cosy places full of animated people. Queues of rowdy folk milled at traffic lights and outside bars and nightclubs.
Even my own suburban street was unrecognisable in the dark. I never knew one of the neighbours had fairy lights wound through the trees of their front yard just a few houses down from my own. Everything took on a shimmer of unreality.
It stirred memories in me of my younger days, and I was unexpectedly sideswiped by an intense grief. Where had my life gone? All those years between youth and now?
I already knew the answer. I have been at home in my pyjamas, while the world dined, strolled, drank, laughed, partied, romanced.
In my head I’ve been planning holidays for when I am well again. I am finally moving in that direction, so I have given myself permission not to just dream but to plan.
Helpful people keep offering me their kind and well-meaning suggestions. Most of them revolve around meditation retreats, detox places, quiet and solitude and nature.
Don’t get me wrong. I love meditation, my farm, tranquility, nature. But that’s been my life for over twenty years. And sometimes it has felt more like a prison than an oasis.
When I can rouse just a little more energy in these bones, then give me life. Give me people and culture and music and wine. Give me galleries and parties and cocktails. Give me noise and crowds and the thrill of the night.
Let me grab my husband by the hand, dive right in and immerse myself in those bright city lights.
Give me some night life.
I never knew until last night, just how much I’ve missed the throbbing heart of a city, and the part of myself that was once at home there.
16 thoughts on “Saturday Night Lights”
You go girrrrrl! that last quote really got a laugh out of me. yes, we don’t remember those nights of sleep……but i do remember staying up all night at burningman to view the sunrise after dancing the night away! i can still remember all of the nights of my life when i chose not to sleep because i was having too much fun! good for you Nicole! i am so very happy that you had the opportunity to be out on your own. love, pamela
I get it. I am in bed by 9pm! It is lovely getting out into the city at night. xxx
Listening to you Nicole it’s much like myself talking . For at least 15 years I have had a restricted life , for a totally different reason than yours , however , it still amounts to the same…restricted . I feel , like you , I want all I have been missing for so long . I feel like a child in a sweet shop and I can’t decide what sweet to have first . Freedom is wonderful , even if the prison was of your own making …I my case it was .
You go girl! Thanks for this post – just what I needed.
Oh Nicole 🙂
Makes me so happy to read those words you’ve written today!
You go girl!!
Sounds absolutely awesome
I’d say just pick a place book the first night or two for when you get there and let it all unfold.. Let the universe dazzle you with spontaneous adventure.. Big hugs to you:)
Will catch up with you soon. Xx
Sounds like it’s time to dust off those boogie woogie dancin’ shoes! Or better yet! Take yourself on a shopping spree and buy yourself some new ones!! Woohoo! Party Time!
P.S. Give my regards to Hemingway!! 🙂
Good for you!
Another thought-provoking and interesting story, Nicole, and I’m glad you had the chance to venture out and observe the nightlife from your own perspective Today: Brizvegas. Tomorrow: the World. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Sending you lots of love <3 and healing hugs xoxox
Yay! Nicole. You made it. Another step closer. I hear you. Life is to be grabbed, when and if you can.
Oh how wonderful that you managed to go out for the night, I truly hope you continue to improve and that one day the bright lights will be yours for the taking
Gosh Nicole – that is a toughie !! The fantastic sensation of going out, mixed with the wall of grief of all you could have been and experienced. I really get it !!!
You know you have learnt so much from Chronic fatigue / Lyme – but every now and then you try on the life you thought you were meant to have and burn with furry and sadness at what could have been.
But like grief, I find that if I give it its time and release – I come around to renewed hope and acceptance – but it is like telling someone not to grieve – you have to do it all the same and in your own way – so here is to a good old fashioned kick scream and cry.
Have you got your ticket for blues yet?
People are just recommending to you what they need :). Of course, you’ve been doing plenty of that. I love Hemingway’s take on the night life, hedonist drunk that he was :).
I really enjoyed reading this 🙂
I love the valley!!! There is nothing quite like dancing to BEYONCE at the beat until 4am