That line, “The night makes me nervous” is a soliloquy from Sinatra’s “A Man Alone” album. The line has always rung true for me, and that is not only when I was a kid. The night has always made me a bit nervous. My earliest recollections of the night were recounted The Hall entry some time ago. This recalled the nightmares of a young child and the long, frightening Hall I had to get through before I reached the safety of my parent’s room in our west 12th street apartment. Perhaps the nervousness started there.
As I grew a bit older the fear of night changed a bit from nightmares, though they continued, to times of too much thinking and reflection. I think back to the room my brother and I shared on west 17th street. This was the apartment that Rob and I have referenced in many other entries. Our room was small and our single beds were no more than four feet apart. There were certainly many good aspects of this. It offered us a time to talk and laugh after it was our “bedtime” and the lights were turned off. I’ve also spoken of this on other entries. Another positive point of the small apartment was the fact that I could hear activity in the other room, where my parents stayed up well after our bedtime. Silence and darkness never mixed well with me as a kid. They still don’t. Even if Rob fell asleep before I did, I could still hear the safe sounds of the Television,, as my parents enjoyed late night TV.
And after the TV was turned off, I still could hear the comforting sounds of their voices as they enjoyed a piece of cake and a cup of coffee before bed. Coffee before bed never bothered them and I loved their nightly ritual. Their muffled voices ( trying to make certain they didn’t wake us), were comforting. The light sound of the coffee cups clinking against the small plates were “safe” sounds for me.
It was only after they finally retired to their room and sound of the shower that Dad religiously took every night was silenced, that I became nervous. I was far from a brave kid. I pretended fairly well..but I was not a brave kid.
There were so many things that caused me anxiety. The kids that picked on me at school and in the neighborhood; the scary movie that I had seen that I pretended to laugh at, the homework I had not completed and the test I was not ready for. I thought of them all in the darkness…. and they made me nervous. It was strange, I could look out of the window in our room and see the Hudson River and lights from the Jersey side of the river. I could see the West Side Highway, and no matter the hour of the night ( or morning), in the City that never sleeps, there would be car lights. Yet, to me in the odd city darkness, I felt anxiety.
As I would lay in my bed and wait for sleep to come, my mind would work against me. I seemed to always imagine the “worst”. What would I do if something bad happened to Dad or Mom or Rob? What if they were gone? I couldn’t imagine life without them and my imagination took me down dark paths where something bad always happened to one of them. It’s interesting, but even today…. after all these years, I still have this fear about loved ones and it always hits in the darkness and silence of the night. Then that same queasy feeling hits my stomach and I want it to be the middle of the day and everything is “ok.” I don’t want it to ever stop being the middle of the day when everything is “ok”
I also thought about the very real possibility of getting made fun at school , or worse, getting beat-up on the way to school tomorrow? I would wish I was one of the tough kids in the neighborhood ….. and then I would fantasize about being the “loner” no one wanted to mess with…. like Clint Eastwood… in his Man with No Name westerns… Yea! That’s who I’ll be! And, for a short time, in my mind, that’s who I was. (I have another entry or two to talk about all the people I pretended to be)..then the sound of a police car on the West Side Highway would bring me back to reality. The silent darkness of the night…
and the night makes me nervous.