I listen to local radio when I can’t sleep because I know somebody is in the booth at any hour. It’s a good sad, that the “on air” light blinks in a dark hall for nobody’s benefit. There’s a comfort in the very idea third shift, the sound of cars on the state highway I can hear from bed, and all of the trains huffing past the bay.

One summer in New York, D and I were on our roof in the Village at 4 a.m., arms flopped off the side, just watching people walk around. A skateboarder, a firefighter, and a woman in heels walking her dog eating an ice cream cone passed by. Watching people so awake when everyone in the building under us must have been asleep made the city a good enough place to stay put.

At night, to communicate without communicating may be a half-comfort but it’s a comfort all the same. Watching and listening can get you through a heavy winter, re-placing a need to be accounted for with a need to co-exist. It’s an insomniac’s bread and butter.

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