The isolated shouting starts around one in the morning, the young men’s beer-drunk voices booming, the women’s higher-pitched and scratching, bouncing off the windows and bricks and mortar of the buildings that makes this two-block street a modern canyon. This is the urban wildlife, and it comes out Friday and Saturday nights when the bars and restaurants close. There’s boisterous laughter, a few curse words, car doors slamming, and an occasional motorcycle doing sixty in first gear. It goes on, intermittently, until 3:30 a.m. or so.

It’s odd because there aren’t that many bars here and none are of the raucous roadhouse type. I don’t think there’s live music anyplace nearby save for an elegant and expensive restaurant lounge a half-mile away (I went there for an extraordinary brunch today, except for the fact that the soy sauce and the maple syrup containers had been switched. Breakfast sushi with maple syrup is, well, perhaps an acquired taste. Pancakes and soy sauce is too.)

The dwellers here are mostly young childless couples, many with dogs, and they seem to go to bed early. By eleven p.m. on weekdays, everything is closed. The blinds on six floors of windows are drawn and even the white glow of televisions is gone. Judging from the number of moving trucks, the tenants are largely transient.

In a way, it’s a perfect environment for a part-time insomniac, but it also vies as the second-loneliest place I’ve ever lived in, the first being an efficiency in Balston, shortly after my wife and I separated.

Up until a few years ago, sleep was not difficult to find and my days were spectacularly uninteresting. I’d wake at five-thirty, go to the gym, eat breakfast, and then do household chores. The afternoons were spent writing, either my own stuff or on assignment. I’d be in bed by eleven.

Around 2014, this changed and sleep became intermittent. It still is. I am wary of drugs, and only two or three times a year take something anodyne such as melatonin. I normally won’t mind noise at night, since I am often awake, but I do resent it the rare times I manage to nod off.

I’m smart enough to know this is not a solvable issue. People—young people, particularly—will be noisy on weekends. By and large I can live with it. But I wish there were a good reason for it, such as their getting drunk in a honky-tonk where I could do an occasional open mic.

That might be worth it.

About epiphanettes

Writer, songcrafter, possibly the best French pedal steel guitarist in Virginia.
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