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.