A site I've been doing some work for, Narratively, solicited their writers this week for stories about all-nighters. I picked over my brain, looking for memories of all the times in college when I partied 'till dawn, and was finally forced to conclude that partying 'till dawn was just not something I did. 'Till 3, maybe, but seldom dawn.
But then I remembered—all night stories don't have to be fun. In fact, it's better if they aren't! So I sharpened my brain-pencil and got to work telling the story of one of the dumbest things I've ever done, which started with an all-nighter and ended in anguish on the Jamaica LIRR platform.
No matter how neatly they rhyme, don’t trust friends who say, “Early flight? Stay up all night!”
Leaving New York after my freshman year at NYU, I booked an eight a.m. flight and was foolish enough to let my best friend turn my ordeal into a party. With the graceless vigor of those young enough to still have a metabolism, we threw ourselves into an all-nighter fueled by Talking Heads, lamb gyros and the world’s worst Manhattans—an abominable mix of Canadian whiskey and dry vermouth that only a freshman could love. But my friends fell well short of greeting the dawn.
“It’s past two,” they whined. “We’re going to bed.”
Half-drunk and fully alone, I put aside my wistfulness and whirlwinded around the apartment, cramming my crap into any bit of luggage that could hold it. Just before dawn, I staggered out of my dorm for the last time, dragging two rolling suitcases, a three-ton duffel and a Duane Reade bag full of sneakers. Unable to carry my Totally Awesome dorm room posters, I left them behind, and my dorm rooms were never Totally Awesome again. I hailed a cab for JFK and slipped into sleep.
It gets a lot dumber from there. There are nine or so other stories on that page, and they're all doosies. Mine is at the bottom presumably because it provides the kind of moral weight that you want to close a piece with.
The neatest thing, really, is that the good folks at Narratively solicited an illustration from a woman who works at Hatch Show Print, a letterpress shop that can only be called a Nashville institution. I fantasize about one day having a play produced in Nashville—Dark Horse theater producers, if you're reading this, call me—and to see my name in Hatch's big, beautiful, blocky letters. Being illustrated by a Hatch employee will tide me over for now.