I love water. I especially crave it at midnight. Waking up from a dead sleep with a dry tongue and reaching for a cold glass of agua is complete euphoria. It feels like the whole thing goes down in one gulp.
When I was little, maybe five, I would constantly awaken from my kindergarten dreams with a mouth as dry as dust. I'd slither out of my sweaty comforter and reach for salvation, courtesy of my pink plastic water cup. However, one dark and scary night, I discovered I was grasping at air. No bedside H2O was to be found by my fat little fingers. There was only one way to fix this: "Mooooooooooommmmm!"
She appeared instantaneously, ready to slay the monsters and nightmares I was summoning her to save me from. She then concealed her irritation upon discovering I was merely incapable of hydrating myself. My predicament was quickly put right and I listened to her lullaby as I drifted off to sleep. When I think back on my most cherished memories with Mom, a majority of them materialized at midnight.
For instance, when I was thirteen years old, my mom and I started this tradition -- every holiday we would secretly deliver baskets of goodies on the doorsteps of our closest friends. Always at midnight. On Easter, the gift bucket would be chock full of chocolate bunnies, hazelnut coffees and colorful eggs with personalized calligraphy. Halloween consisted of pumpkins, sugar comas and spooky costume jewelry. The baskets became a joke within our band of buddies. Who was this unidentified holiday patron? Mom and I did the whole project anonymously. The tradition became more complex as our friends became bent on busting the benefactor. Sprinklers were put on timers, booby-traps were assembled in driveways and my walk from Mom's Benz to the assigned doorstep was increasingly nerve-racking. Every time a dog would bark or a bush would rustle, I would awkwardly scamper back to the car, twisting my ankles and quietly cursing the entire time. Upon my return, Mom would be in hysterics over my incompetent running skills and my hushed demands for her to "stop laughing!" only made her giggle harder. Driving down those empty streets with sore stomach muscles, I was in heaven.
As I grew older, midnight became my common curfew. However, despite the hour, I still loved tip- toeing into my mom's room and relaying the evening's events to her. I would lay across the edge of her bed and question if boys were this confusing when she was in high school. Even my closest girlfriends would sometimes join us in the late night gossip sessions, asking for motherly advice in whispers... the younger generation laying at the feet of the wiser generation.
In fact, even my grandmas have given me magical witching hours. As a kid, I recall standing on the porch with Nana Sally at her log cabin, looking at the Milky Way which was crystal clear in the cold mountain air. At age nineteen, I couldn't believe it when Grandma Jo enlisted my help in toilet papering the home of her uptight next door neighbors. Just last week, my mom went back home to Arizona. On our last California night together she tucked me in, gave me a glass of water and wandered into her bedroom. She played a song on her computer before turning out the light and I listened to her lullaby as I drifted off to sleep...
Goodnight my angel now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child will cry and if you sing this lullaby
Then in your heart there will always be a part of me
Someday we'll all be gone
But lullabies live on and on
They never die that's how you and I will be
...and it was midnight.