North Star

I have never been, until very recently, anything resembling a night owl, but as I am retired, and as I seem to have found myself living in an, um, interesting and often noisy corner considered downtown in this smallish place, it’s 2:48 a.m,, and awake I am.

It was the car crash in the parking garage, the creasing thump and the smashing of lights, followed by the whoop and screeching tire of a getaway that woke me. And any number of others who were trying to sleep on this side of our apartment building. Nothing to do except wait until later to step out and gulp and hope it was their own car the perpetrators have dented and maimed.

It it did sound like careless destruction and gleeful crunching under some small duress of escape. In a vehicle not necessarily their own.

I got dressed and stood out on the balcony. Ship in the marina, white lights bright. Water dotted with reflections of orange sodium, waveless. Big Dipper up left, Cassiopeia up right, North Star – incredibly, as I see it – directly in front me, high, lone, certain.

My neighbour’s soundscape a puzzle. Voices on top of one another, disparate. Not a conversation. Unidentifiable, incomprehensible, mutedly barking. Perhaps a woman drunk or high talking back seriously to a tv, to someone reciting a serious monologue. In the time it’s taken to write this far, the cacophony has stopped.

While I was outside gazing about, a car came up onto the upper parking deck, drove a quick spin around one end, and backed tidily into a parking spot, killing its headlights at the same time. Police. Camouflaged entirely in a dim spot. My hope is that they have done a swoop around Level 2. My hope, of course, is that my car is unscathed.

The ship moored at the city docks hums. Some of them, loading, thrum – enough to shake sleep away. Tonight, though, aside from the rickety clickety bundle buggy somebody rattled up the street, and the occasional whoosh of tires, it has gone gently, mechanical whir quiet.

Light off, ease back on the couch, try again.

That star is there all of our days, too. Think about that.