I recently re-watched Sleepless In Seattle, a movie that appeals to me because I've always loved the idea of people calling in to a radio station in the middle of the night. Lonely souls reaching out and connecting with others.
There’s something about darkness and nighttime that leaves us feeling alone, and sometimes homesick. It probably dates back to prehistoric man and the way our brains were wired to protect us at night. While we don’t need that skill as much anymore, and electric lights prove to us that we’re not in danger, we sometimes still feel alone or even lonely at night.
One summer I was staying with my grandmother in South Carolina, and all day we would have so much fun, and then every night I would be so sad and homesick I couldn’t stand it .
I remember as Girl Scout leaders, Julie and I would be standing by the tents many times in the wee hours, waiting for a parent to arrive and take the homesick camper home. The funny thing was that during the whole day, there had not been a hint of it, but let darkness fall and one leader was making the call home and the other leader was comforting.
It happened to Madi too. She didn’t feel comfortable going to sleepovers till much later. There were a couple of times when Paul had to do a middle-of-the-night pick up. Once she went away for music camp, I knew she’d have no problems though. She would/could do anything for music.
For several years, I took a certain medicine to prevent me from developing migraines. The welcome side effect was that once I fell asleep, it kept me asleep all night long. But then after having been on it for several years, I felt it was time to quit. Thankfully the number of migraines stayed very low, but so did my ability to stay asleep.
I started waking up almost every night at around 3 to 4 AM. I’d be awake for at least a couple of hours and sometimes I’d be up for good. So while I was too awake to sleep, I was too sleepy to feel anything but miserable.
I started dreading bedtime and getting panicky when I would wake up. I would toss and turn quietly and didn’t want to wake anyone else up so I would move to the guest room. I was starting to feel like Goldilocks; I was trying out all the beds and couldn’t seem to sleep in any of them.
One night I had moved to the guest bed, and I decided to check my phone. My friend Kathy had shared her Wordle score. The timestamp showed 3:47 AM. Someone else was up! I was startled and yet vaguely happy. I started my Wordle and sent my score to her.
We texted back-and-forth a couple of times till one of us got sleepy. A lot of nights now that will happen. The timestamp always lets us know what kind of night it has been for the other.
It’s the craziest thing, but just knowing someone else is out there as well is comforting. It doesn’t help me sleep any better, but I don’t dread it, and I certainly don’t panic. I feel a little less alone; so for now, I remain contentedly Sleepless in Charlotte.