When I was 10 I had a bout of what I thought at the time was horrible insomnia – it kept me up until midnight or one most nights during the summer before I started middle school. My parents chalked it up to nerves about starting at a new (bigger!) school, and that may have been part of the problem – but whatever kept me awake to begin with always gave way to panic attacks as it got later and later and I couldn’t get to sleep.
I remember that I panicked because I thought I was the only person left awake. Somehow, to my 10 year old mind, there was a dead space in the middle of the night when nobody was awake (anywhere!) and I was left all alone. This caused me to panic a bit, which in turn kept me from sleeping, which turned into a vicious cycle. All this worry was reinforced by the fact that we lived on a very quiet street, so there was nary a car or an airplane to let me know that someone, somewhere, was still up.
I thought of all this tonight when I was walking home from dance class, over the BU bridge. Boston’s skyline twinkled in the distance – a hundred buildings lit up, the Hood Blimp floating over the Sox game. I still find it comforting to know that whenever I am up in the middle of the night there are thousands of people up with me, right in my own back yard.