Night Lights

I have always liked lights at night.

City lights. Street lights. Headlights. Shop signs.

Soft yellow edged with orange red.

My sister slept with a nightlight until she was fifteen. I don’t like the dark, she said.

As was often the case with my sister and me I was the opposite.

I liked the dark.

I would walk into the garden at night and just look. My mother thought I was touched. You know – a little funny in the head.

In truth I was looking at Mrs. Hutchinson’s lamp that you could see at night from her living room window. It had velvet stripes on the shade so that the light was cast in vertical blocks. It lit up the rhododendron bushes and part of the back steps. I would pretend I was an actor in the theatre moving in and out of scene.

At night in bed I would sleep with my curtains only partly drawn so I could see the car headlights that pulled in and out of the street play shadow puppets on the old oak tree beside my window. Sometimes I could see starlight or moonlight or the hazy gleam from the streetlight as it was split by rain or wind.

Lying in a darkened room and catching sight of infrequent splashes of light makes you realise that the city never sleeps, that someone, somewhere is always doing something. There are so many stories in the process of being told and paths being followed.

My dream house would be right on the bay with windows 12 feet high. I would put my bed far back against the wall so that if I couldn’t sleep I would watch the play of lights on the water, cataloguing patterns and colours.

Night would come and the lights would come, filling up the windows like a jar full of sweets.

And comfort would come. And a sense of belonging. And eventually, as the light pooled at my feet, slumber.

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19 thoughts on “Night Lights

  1. I also love looking at cityscapes or skylines at night. It’s comforting when you’ve been out on the freeway and are driving back into the city and you see all the familiar landmarks.

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  2. I’d love a house on the bay too. Don’t know how I’d ever afford it. Maybe in my next life…..

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  3. I share your love of the night and the random lights which throw shadows on the wall and the light that glows and bends as it makes its way through the night.

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  4. I was just saying to my husband the other night that this summer we need to take a lot of walks in the dark. One of my favorite things to do is walk around on a muggy summer night, smelling the air, looking for fireflies and listening to the peepers.

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  5. I love night time; the darkness, the infinite possibilities it holds, the mystery and the comfort of the still darkness covering everything.
    All the light we need at night time to find our way is in the sky…:)

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  6. One of my favorite spots is on the foothills overlooking Idaho Falls during sunset. The lights come on one by one until it’s dark everywhere but the sea of lights below. Lovely. =)

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  7. Hi JADE:
    I love that too. When you see the lights there is a strong sense of coming home. It is comforting.

    Hi JULES:
    There will be other lights to replace it. Remember, I want pictures!

    Hi ELOISE:
    I’d have to sell my soul to afford it. I think I’ll either have to wait till my next life too or else get a sugar daddy!

    Hi TOBEME:
    What a beautiful comment. It is so poetic. WOW. You have a way with words!

    Hi KATE:
    Oh, that sounds fantastic. Fireflies are the most gorgeous creatures, aren’t they? I always pretend they’re fairies.

    Hi LUA:
    Oh, definitely. The infinite possibilities are actually inspiring. I love how you put that.

    Hi GABRIELLE:
    Wouldn’t it be amazing? I wonder if the people who live there appreciate what they have.

    Hi TEX:
    That sounds amazing. I would love to see it. I can imagine the magic of it in my head!

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  8. i used to lay in the dark and listen to a distant rumble as a huge lorry came along the empty midnight road, then I would watch as the headlights swept my room like a flashlight before disappearing leaving me alone again in the darkness.

    i especially liked the imagery of “Night would come and the lights would come, filling up the windows like a jar full of sweets.”

    nice writing!

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  9. Hi SINGER:
    I love your image of the lorry and the flashlight. I have experienced that too and it is amazing. Thanks for all your positive feedback.

    Hi MELEAH:
    Aww. You are so sweet. My sister is afraid of the dark too. She carries a little torch in her bag just in case she gets caught in the dark somewhere!

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  10. Beautiful, Selma. I love driving down the Cahill Expressway at night and seeing the city lit up before me.

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  11. While I am afraid of the dark, I do love the nighttime. Lights on water? Oh, that is magic. When I was young, some friends had a house on a tiny lake, and one year all the residents that lived on the shore stuck tiki lamps at the ends of their docks.

    That night was so beautiful with the flickering lights on the rippling water, I will never forget it.

    Thank you for the memories.

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  12. The night has a life all it’s own. I like it when there are different colour lights to make the dark night spectacular. I also like to travel at night.

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  13. Hi KAREN:
    I have always been a bit odd in that I love the dark. Even as a kid I was wandering down dark hallways and such. The tiki lamps scene sounds beautiful. I wouldn’t ever forget that either. Thank you for sharing such a precious memory.

    Hi ROSHAN:
    I like travelling at night too. It’s awesome. The colours are amazing!

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  14. There’s something to be said about the night. The different colours, the way that they interact with each other, and the fact that the dark can hide the blemishes in the world – like when you open your curtains in the morning to see everything covered in a blanket of snow.
    I did have an irrational fear of the dark. I can’t explain why, but it was as if there was something hiding there, just waiting for me.
    That has changed now. I do like the dark.
    You mentioned water too. I find that water calms me. Not the bottle kind, or watch water trickle out of a leaky faucet. I refer to a body of water, preferably moving. Back in 1994, my friend Jamie and I went to a reservoir north of Glasgow in winter. I saw the top layer of the reservoir frozen solid, but I could see the water moving below it. In a word, spectacular!

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  15. Hi MANOJ:
    I think being afraid of the dark is the norm. I was a very abnormal child. Nothing much has changed 😆

    I have seen a lake frozen with the water moving underneath too. It is incredible but in a way, quite scary. Imagine if you got caught beneath it. Reminds me of that Kate Bush song ‘Under Ice.’

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