The Silence After the Party

5:01 AM.

I haven’t been sleeping well at all this week.

Have you ever messed up your sleep schedule so bad that you forgot it was ever normal? and because you got busy, you never got around to fixing it?

Suffice to say mine is broken.

I keep having these late, late nights where I can’t sleep, where I don’t want to. Earlier this last month, when the depression I was feeling was at its pinnacle, I looked forward to sleep. I would actually induce that sleep, because for me it was a safe place away from the circulating thoughts, a quiet place of solitude for me to escape to.

But lately it’s been the opposite. Lately, I’ve been dreading that silence. I liken it to the silence that one experiences at the end of a party.

The music stops playing. People turn to acknowledge reality, which waits beyond the walls in which they hide. A crowd of lost people disperses into the cold night, sure to return to their lives and abandon the life that was the party before. They bid farewell to one another, making promises they won’t remember the next day, and silence once more takes the streets.

You all the while clamber into your car in a drunken haze, feeling the cold air outside follow you in, sobering you just enough so that driving isn’t immediately the worst idea. Turning the ignition, you wait to feel warm again. The engine hums happily, though you are feeling anything but. It is dark, it is quiet, you are cold, and you are alone. The party is over. The party has ended. And you are alone.

The silence after the party is really just a reminder that what was is no longer. It is the reality that though we may feel surrounded by warm bodies milling about, and though we may feel that we are a part of something larger—that this party is one in which we all have something to celebrate—we are ultimately alone, ultimately on our own. It’s the same feeling I experience at the end of the day, when it’s time to go to bed.

There is a potentiality to the morning time that isn’t so at night. I spoke with a friend about this, about how I keep feeling anxious—eager, even—to get to the next morning and see the sun rise. I dread the process of sleep: I don’t want to lay in the silence of my darkened room and feel that same feeling of the silence after the party; I don’t want to be reminded I’m alone. Instead, I remain on my phone, busying myself with distractions so that the silence never fully reaches me.

I never do anything in silence anymore, except write. At every other time of the day I’m listening to something, or watching something, or reading something. I’m constantly consuming. I fill my head with these conversations and stories because there are none to be had or heard now that the party is over.

And that’s why I haven’t been sleeping well.

That’s why I’m not now.

You gaze up through the window shield, out to the foggy night that drifts beyond. You’re alone, yes, but is there not something special to that? Something intimate that only you experience? You need not now consult with the others around to select a song; instead you connect your phone, and soon the song you’ve been wanting to hear all night is blasting through your speakers. The car has warmed up now, so that even the cold from outside has left: yet another reminder that you’re alone.

You shift the gear from park to drive and speed off and into the night, away from the party that was, away from the night that is no more. In the silence after the party you linger, knowing you won’t remember any of it in the morning. But maybe you’ll stay awake, maybe you’ll decide that lingering in that silence after the party is easier than wakening to the new sounds of tomorrow.

And so you stay awake. So too, will I.

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