Wednesday, July 15, 2009


It’s 4am and I’m wide awake. I couldn’t sleep, whether it was too much garlic in the dish I had made the night before or because I simply had too much on my mind. Somehow, watching South Park’s little characters walking sideways has amused me to the point of forgetting my troubles temporarily. Vince from ShamWow almost convinced me that I’m gonna love his nuts but, surprisingly, many things happen at this time that I’ve never noticed before. Birds chirp the loudest during this time - one even hit my sliding glass door not too long ago. There are people up working at this time, continually backing up trucks for some God known reason: “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!” I wonder how I slept through all of this before. I hear people getting into their cars to drive off to work and other people just coming home from a night out of partying. I can’t believe how lively it is.

There are people having a conversation below my apartment, so I decided to take my laptop out on the deck and write from there. I’ve never seen the atmosphere so fired up with energy before. Birds are chirping like maniacs. Planes are practically brushing up against one another in their flight paths to get from point A. to point B. Commuter trains are firing off their horns, making sure nothing is in their way down the tracks. Sirens are going off - fire alarms, police sirens as well as ambulances are rushing by, yet the streets are somehow empty. What goes on at this hour?

And in my mind is another chaotic scene. Memories of people who used to be in my life; who used to want to be in my life. Times when I, myself have come home at this hour, horrified that the birds were chirping so loudly, indicating I would surely have a severe headache when I woke up sometime in the mid-afternoon. I remember being a bartender waiting for 5am to roll around so I could pack up all the liquor in a safe cabinet and head home. The bar would be empty, except for a few lost souls looking for some sound advice, which I needed myself. I had become their therapist, giving them their medication right on the spot. It was sad shouting out “last call” to one or two people, and to have to watch them stagger home...or to stagger somewhere unknown.

But all of that is behind me. I know there are still people screaming out “last call” at this hour, but I’m home. I’m home where my wife is. I’m home where I can sit here and type this all out. I’m home, where none of these things in my past can affect me anymore. But, somehow it’s a kick in the ass when your mind lets you visit the places, the people and the pain of what you’ve been through in your past come rising up to the surface, making it reality again. Especially if you’re the “thinker type”, you wonder: are these people that are now in my past okay? Whatever happened to so and so? Or the worst thought that could be lingering would be: I wonder if someone's up at 4am thinking about me too.


the walking man said...

I've been up since 4AM too Deb...4AM yesterday...sleep is elusive these days, not for the same reason as yours though. I just haven't felt like giving in to the urge. Later maybe. Sleep well my thinking friend, sleep well and comfortably.

TeeJay said...

Since I'm a morning person AND a commuter, I typically do a lot of my running during the wee hours of the day. I therefor know all these sounds of which you speak, particularly the chirping birds.

I remember one time on a run around Merriewold Lake I came upon a tree that must have had 100 birds in it, and they were chirping so loudly it was if they were cheering me along during a marathon.

Night creatures are a unique breed. During some of my earlier days in NYC, I used to be one of them. Now I'm glad that I waking UP at 4:00am rather than just getting around to hitting the hay....

Deb said...

The Walking Man: I think too much when I have insomnia - or - insomnia makes me think too much. I’m not quite sure. Coffee?

TeeJay: I totally hear ya - it never really bothered me all that much when I use to commute to work. I’d wake up at 5am (a bit later), hit the gym and then head home, shower and go to work. It was a ritual. I loved seeing the sun rise (when I wasn’t in such a rush) and having my morning coffee sitting in traffic. I know, weird. But somehow that feelings sort of changes and you’d think it wouldn’t---that feeling of loving mornings. I used to, and now feel that “nervous feeling” when I’m up too late. I know I’m going to feel like hell the next day because it’s worse than a hangover to me. What is it with the birds being so damn loud at that time?

Just_because_today said...

I wasn't...not up at 4:00 a.m. thinking of you ;) but I have been up at that time (I used to call it my 3:30 call), staring at the ceiling engulfed in memories and feeling the pain all over again wondering if...
There is also the 4:00 time when you feel safe laying next to the person who loves you, and that my friend, you have.

Deb said...

JBT: You weren't thinking of me??? WHAT?
Well yes, I feel very fortunate having a wonderful person to share my life with and tell my most inner thoughts to. That to me is priceless. It's those nights where I think too much - overanalyze things as usual.

paz13 said...

Tough not to overanalyze things when you're awake at 4am and not ready to roll out of bed.

Not much to offer in the way of suggestions other than go to sleep later or get up and do something productive. That doesn't happen too often to me, generally becuase I get up early anyway and am tired at night.


~Just me again~ said...

Funny the things you tune in to at 4am, wide awake. THings you never noticed. And as you said, used to annoy you, way back in the day. Insomnia sucks! I'm an over analyzer in the worst way, it causes anxiety attacks.

~Just me again~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ananji said...

I go through bouts of 4am wake-ups. Agh! It's almost always when there's something volatile stirring under the surface. At those times, my brain DEMANDS that I get out my pen/paper or laptop for some writing meditation. I usually spend half an hour writing some sort of pointless drivel, and then the REAL stuff comes pouring out.

When I proofread it later, I'm always amazed at two things:
1) I have a lot of feeling and clarity at 4am.
2) I make a lot of typos at 4am.

I hope you sleep better (longer) tonight. And found (and resolved) whatever might have been lurking under the surface of your 4am wakeup. And I hope all those you were thinking about (and those who might have been thinking about you) are in good, safe places.


Xmichra said...

You are remonding me of a song i like
you look like you're in another wolrd
but I can read your mind
It's 4 o'clock in the morning and
it's starting to get light
it is a techno tune, so i wouldn't be surprized at not having heard it. but the lyric is solid. When it is that early, more than likely you are thinking about something that may seem blurry, sleepy, but so clear. The light of the new day is here, and it is awakening.

I usually wake up at 3am, have since i was a kid. My mother was convinced i was a witch since i was 3. lol...

TeeJay said...

You asked me in your last comment "why is it the birds are so damn loud at the hour?"

A friend of mine once told me that those are the "deviant birds" that left the bar at last call (4 a.m.)but didn't feel like going home to bed yet. So they stay out/up making noise, hollering as they throw frisbees around in the parking lot or whatever...