“When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter? Why did you do it? How did you feel afterwards?”
When I was young I used to pull all-nighters all the time, and they usually coincided with some kind of party, a celebration of a youth and a vibrancy that I took for granted back then. I remember doing it by accident, going to a club, or a dorm room, or even a bar, and latching on with others who kept the party going until the wee small hours of the next morning. And surprisingly there were very few ill-effects from those nights of near-debauchery. No hangovers, no worries.
But as I got older the all-nighters became less of an accident, and more a product of intense planning. They also became relegated for the most part to New Year’s Eve, and then I would sleep the entirety of New Year’s Day away. Gone were the times when I could go a full 24 hours without sleep and still feel okay the next day. Coffee replaced beer at about 1 in the morning, when my body was crying out for me to just let go, to drift away in the blissful sleep that awaited me if I just gave in to it.
Then I stopped doing even that, and New Year’s Eve became like any other day, or if I did indeed stay up to witness the dropping of the ball my head would still hit the pillow by 12:08 or so, coffee or not. And years later it would have still been the same if I hadn’t started working at Target, and I was introduced to the phenomenon known as Black Friday. As the years went by each Black Friday began moving farther into Thanksgiving Thursday, until two years ago when it finally moved into late Thursday night instead of early Friday morning, and I was there all night.
I liken it to Cinderella turning back into a ragged girl, the coach returning to a pumpkin, and the horses back into the little mice they were from the start. The boy I was back in the day, the one who dared to take being nocturnal for granted, laughed at me that night as the clock kept moving, and I got slower and slower. It was like my brain was molasses, and I had a hard time finding my thought processes. I joked that they would have sold more stuff had I not been there and in the way. Somehow I survived the night, and I did it again last year, but both episodes only served to show how time changes things.
Maybe this year will be different.