One of the perks of not being able to sleep (if it can be thought of as a perk) is that you get the house, and often the world, to yourself at odd hours of the night. A few nights ago I was up wandering around 3 am or so, reheating a heat pack and making me some chamomile tea. The house was silent aside from the sounds of settling that seem to happen only when it thinks no one is listening. There was a hint of horizontal light peeking through the blinds from the streetlamps out front and the odd glow of an alarm clock and charging laptop, enough to light my way downstairs without having to turn on an overhead light.
As I was waiting for my water to heat I looked out the back window and realized I wasn't alone. Across the bridle path and through the trees I could see not one, not two but three windows illuminated in the darkness. I wondered at the circumstances behind the too-early-morning shine. Did my neighbors have jobs that forced them to be up at this hour? Were there new babies in the house that needed feeding or comforting? Perhaps they'd received bad news, a late night phone call that forced all sleep from them? Or, like me, did they simply have nights when sleep, no matter how welcome and wished for, wouldn't come?
I leaned my forehead against the cool pane and let the steam from my mug fog the glass as one by one the lights winked out and I was alone again with the night. Misery, no matter how brief, loves company and it was a comfort to share my insomnia with strangers. And with that feeling of unknown of alliance and companionship I headed back upstairs to cuddle under the blankets and drift off to sleep.