Sunday, August 7, 2011

“All-Nighters”

          My senior year in high school, a group of students from Trinity University took me into their fold. Ms. Liz, a co-worker at Hickory Farms, generously shared her friends with me and allowed me to get a sneak preview into college life. Stewart, who lived closest to my home, would pick me up in his new, red Trans Am and escort me either to Ms. Liz’s apartment (a conversion in an old house in Alamo Heights), or to The Bombay Bicycle Club where I had my first Singapore Sling. I loved these all night outings with these wonderful new friends. Each came from different places, each had unique stories, and each offered friendship to me even though I didn’t attend Trinity.
          Looking back, I know the influence of this tight group of friends guided my later days when I attended Texas A&M. For one thing, I never saw anyone drive drunk. Before it became fashionable, we had designated drivers. Several of the men, Vietnam vets attending college on the GI bill, had already “been there, done that”—and then some. They probably overprotected me, and I always appreciated it. I remember lounging on huge pillows in someone’s apartment, lights low or candles burning, our murmured conversations drifting from current issues to philosophy to heartbreaks. These gentlemen introduced me to different music, impacted my reading, and encouraged my self-discovery.
          Once at A&M, my all-nighters stemmed from necessity. No matter how hard I tried, I never had a course load less than seventeen hours, and many semesters I had nineteen or twenty because of labs. I didn’t while away to the wee hours of the morning discussing philosophy or analyzing song lyrics. Instead, I drilled over the human muscular system from sundown to sunrise. I didn’t lounge on huge pillows with gentle candlelight shadowing all but our voices. Instead, I sat in our huge walk-in closet with the brightest bulb I could find in the center light and poured over Freud and Jung. Of course, my roommates and I stayed up to daybreak after baring our souls, drying our tears, or swearing off men again. In those magical hours of moonlight and stars, we often shared the things we kept hidden during the day.
         Eventually, college ended and so did the all-nighters. Until parenthood! To this day I can still feel Paul’s weight as he snuggled in my arms in the middle of the night. The thick cushioned rocker allowed me to sit and rock for endless hours. I’d croon my “sunshine” repertoire—every song I knew that contained the word “sun” or “sunshine” wove into our nightly ritual. A series of ear infections meant we shared many all-nighters. And children grow into that age where they begin their own all-night escapades. David and I always retreated into our own room, sometimes we’d read, or David would play his guitar late into the night. Often we’d end up drifting off to sleep sometime before morning once we’d hear the front door click, and Paul whisper through our bedroom door, “Mom, Dad? I’m home.”
          “All-nighters” re-entered my life during the last few months. With my mother’s condition demanding attention during the day, I don’t get to leave the house until six or seven in the evening. Fortunately, I have friends who don’t mind meeting for dinner and don’t complain if we stay up until past midnight catching up. I’ll stay up to almost sunrise in wonderful conversations drifting from current issues to philosophy to music and self-discovery.
  

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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