Is it an oxymoron to have completed a Bachelor’s degree without the aid of any all-nighters?
There I was, a 4.0 student, walking across the stage of my college’s beautiful chapel (seating 3,000, every one of them filled with sentimental families). Even had the little braids to prove my academic excellence. But I had missed one proud badge of college success:
One of my relatives – Mom, maybe? – said she pulled at least one all-nighter in college to write papers. One of my good friends, another honors student double-majoring in English and history, regularly wrote papers on as little as 3 hours of sleep. I’m nearly certain my college roommate pulled an all-nighter or two while I slumbered.
Me, I can remember two nights in my life when I got less than five hours of sleep.
Until the evening of the glorious Perseid meteor shower.
I kidnapped one of the gals from church and we hightailed it on down to my cousins’ house. My cousins, as you might recall, live on a farm way out in the middle of nowhere – perfect setting for stargazing, don’tcha think? And those Perseids! It’s a tradition of mine to go watch them every August on the night they’re most active. (I admit, that was easier to work out when I worked overtime on second shift.) My young friend had never seen a meteor shower and my young cousin didn’t start college classes for another week, so we decided to stay up late watching them.
Passing the time before the peak hours of the shower, we read poetry. Ogden Nash was never so funny as at midnight.
Then around 12:30 or 1 a.m., we ventured out onto the dewy wet grass (getting dewier by the moment) to join another cousin watching the meteor shower. It was kind of chilly. We had blankets to lay on but we had to retreat indoors to retrieve some more… we were sandwiched between layers of fabric by 3 a.m.
Sixty-some meteors later. Ahhh, the bliss that enfolds you when you’re curled in a blanket, staring at one of the natural wonders of God’s creation. I don’t understand meteor showers… I can’t imagine what it would be like to ride a meteor across the universe and into the atmosphere. I guess that’s part of why I enjoy them so much.
Around 2:30 a.m. we were trying to convince ourselves that it wasn’t too cold to stay out another half-hour. I don’t know how we got from that to the topic of all-nighters, but we did. (Minds work rather strangely after midnight. Must be that Twilight Zone magic of la madrugada (the wee hours of the morning).
And suddenly, I found myself mouthing phrases like “I’ve never pulled an all-nighter.” “Wouldn’t this be a fun night to pull one?” “No, it wouldn’t be too bad in the morning, certainly not much worse than getting only four hours of sleep.” “Sure, I can stay awake all night, and I’ll prove it.”
Or something like that.
Suffice it to say, come 5:30 a.m., my cousin and I started chatting about anything and everything just to be able to stay awake. Rumored heartthrob Heath Ledger (RIP) did his best to keep us alert until then, but the silence of the laptop speakers and the darkness of the void left by the laptop screen led us dangerously close to slumber.
(What? You don’t regularly watch DVDs on a laptop? What are you, a freak?)
Chatting, chatting, for an hour. I don’t remember a word of what we talked about.
And then a hot shower to wake up. Oh, right. I didn’t fall asleep! Well then, a hot shower to… banish that feeling between asleep and awake that sometimes steals over you while you’re driving. Not a good thing. And I was driving the half-hour back home with a poor, sleepy high-school friend in the passenger seat. Definitely need to be the alert driver.
But I made it. I made it through praise band practice – playing the guitar – and through coffee minutes and through Sunday School and through praise band during church and through the sermon. I even drove home without drifting into la-la land and the left lane.
Oh, and know what else? I tried napping for about two hours. Fitfully. Isn’t pulling an all-nighter supposed to make you dead tired the next day? Mine failed.
Not that I intend to pull any in the near future. Just that one time – to say I did it.