I wanted to roll in this night, live in it forever.
The cooling saffron air, teasing my pallet with the first hint of fall, was lapping my newly styled hair—a haircut that made me look younger yet wiser. The pavement was sexy and enticing with a slight sheen of wet glistening over her surface.
I could smell a slightly burnt, acrid taste coming from Al’s Burger Shack and somewhere, from a rooftop bar, a soloist was performing an upbeat yet surprisingly soulful version of “Stand By Me.” My heels clicked in time to the clear, sharp melody.
“When the night has come, and the land is dark…”
I passed by an Hispanic couple languidly reveling on their lounge chairs in front of their taco truck, loosely tossing a wave my way. An elderly couple slid by, holding hands, and I chuckled at his calf-high bright white socks underneath his TEVAs.
On the other side of the street rough, youthful life walked down the sidewalk, laughing and yelling loudly in a raucously fun argument. This mix of college-aged co-eds were on their way out for the night.
They were not aware that across the street I watched them as my feet propelled me forward. I was envious yet happy, glad I had passed the prickly years of the early 20’s yet startling disappointed that I wasn’t them this evening.
I was alone, downtown, on a Saturday evening. The night was just beginning for everyone out in this picturesque “city” I live in.
As a mom to two very young children, I found myself rushing through the scene.
I was rushing because I had been out thirty minutes later than what I had promised my husband.
I was rushing because I had promised him I would help with bedtime.
I was rushing because I was supposed to bring back dinner.
Yet everything was taking too long. Far too long.
The hipster behind the burrito counter had casually dropped some food in his preparation, his bloodshot eyes sparkling as he said, “Hey, no big deal, dude.” With that flippant error I had become woefully late. I had pounded my toes furiously into the mosaic tiled floor while the “dudes” in line next to me had talked about how amazing the concert was going to be that night.
I had rolled my eyes, grabbed my brown paper bag of upscale, overpriced Mexican, and run out, frantically texting to see how the boys were, how bedtime was going. I had promised I would be right there.
Now I was rushing through this perfect fall night in September because I, unlike the couple waiting for their taco truck business to begin booming at the drunken hour of midnight, didn’t have the luxury of time. I didn’t have until midnight. All I had was now and two boys waiting for me at home.
“If the sky, that we look upon, should tumble and fall…”
The music made something stick in my throat. My eyes started to well.
So I stopped my rushing. I let myself listen to what this night, what this singer, was trying to tell me.
For the first time in five years I stopped walking with a purpose. For the first time since I had my first child I let myself meander. I slowed my thoughts, I slowed my pace. And I focused on nothing but the music, the smells, the kiss of the dark, and my sculpted shoulders now bare to the town and bronzed from the summer spent at the community pool.
“I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear…”
I felt my legs slowly moving in their hip sockets. I could sense the hard, salty earth making contact with my feet, holding me calmly. And I stopped.
There I was: finally perfectly alone. Here, in a crowded street of energy, vibrancy, and old muddied puddles reflecting gasoline bubbles, I found my meditation and a sense of peace.
“I love it here. God, I miss it here,” I thought to myself.
I love my children, and I love being a mother. But it would be a lie to say that I don’t have moments of regret, playing the “What If I Didn’t Have Kids” game.
I stopped click clacking to the rhythm, stood still, and closed my eyes. The promise of the song washed over me, like the city was singing to me.
“And darling, darling, stand by me, oh stand by me…”
I miss being out in the World. I miss feeling youthful and vampirishly feeding off of the energy of a city. I miss knowing that on any given night I could put on lipstick, a fancy shirt from Forever21, and walk out the door to a new adventure that I couldn’t possibly dream of.
I miss nights spent with a thick oontz beat that ravaged me from the inside out while my passions were laid to rest on a hot, sweaty dance floor.
These days, for the past few years, my adventures have been contained within the walls of my own home or centered on pre-nap pumpkin farm and zoo trips. It is beautiful, but in a different way. The beauty is because of what I am giving to my children. But there is something in my soul that is not fed.
Even as a mom, I yearn for the beauty of the night world. The city speaks to me with a special message. It tells me that I am one of a million but I am also one in a million and tonight the joys that come my way are crafted for me, only me.
The city night is about my needs, my wants, my desires, and my secrets. The city night wants me, not my kids.
“Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by me…”
I opened my eyes.
With a sigh I heaved my bag of burritos in to the back seat, placed between the car seats, and let myself in behind the wheel. It was 8 p.m. A young, challenging, ravishing Lesbian couple passed me, hands on each other’s back, seeking out what the city had to say to them.
I rolled down my windows, put on a good beat, and made my way back home, to my kids.