I love to go to bed. At the end of the day, there’s nothing like that lie-down moment: the sheets are cool and fresh, my spine gratefully relaxes, there’s a good book handy, and it’s almost dark outside. That’s what I said: ‘almost dark.’ I’m as far as you can get from a night owl; 9 o’clock is late enough for me and 10 o’clock is way past my bed time; Midnight? I’ve always wondered what it’s like that late at night. Is it darker?
I vaguely remember a time when I would rendezvous with Johnny Carson but that was years ago. College, maybe. These days, I can usually make it past Jeopardy! but after that, all bets are off. Try as I might, I just can’t resist the call of high thread-count Egyptian cotton and a down pillow. You’re thinking I should be embarrassed to confess this; I think you’re just jealous that I’m getting a good eight hours…and then some.
I feel like I’m in good company—not literally, of course—when I retire early. Ben Franklin nodded off before dark, at least when he wasn’t flying his kite in a thunder-and-lightening storm. Farmers are notorious early-to-bedders, but then they have to be up before that infamous crack of dawn. I just happen to believe that when day is done and it’s time for Taps, why wait for the inevitable? So go get a good night’s sleep! You’re only going to get cranky if you stay up late or you’ll drink too much and feel terrible come morning. You’re better off counting sheep.
Or reading a good book. There’s just something so right about getting horizontal and getting back to where I left off about this time last night. If I’m really enjoying the book I’m reading, I can usually knock off at least a dozen pages before I realize I’m rereading the paragraph I just read, but most nights, a dozen pages feel more like sloughing through “War and Peace.” But that’s ok; my book is patient and will be ready and waiting for me tomorrow night.
I admit there is one problem with retiring early: on occasion, I encounter that dreaded 3 o’clock moment when I’m wide awake and the rest of the world isn’t. When that happens, I think about turning on the light and reconnecting with my book, but then I remember that I’m sharing the bed with my light-sleeping wife who probably just fell asleep a few minutes ago. That’s when I’m caught between the urge to rise and go elsewhere and the comfort of snuggling up to this lovely creature who keeps me warm on even the coldest nights. You can imagine which one of those two roads I travel.
So now you know: don’t call, text, or email me past eight pm. The phone is either off or on do-not-disturb. Whatever it is you want, it will have to wait ’til morning. But feel free to leave a message. I’ll get back to you bright and early—you’ll still be snoring when I’m on my second cup of coffee.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was published in May 2017; a second volume of Musings entitled “I’ll Be Right Back” was released in June 2018. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com