To Be Painted By Van Gogh

The cobblestone streets press unevenly onto the soles of feet. And despite the sleepiness that is meant to be felt at this hour, washed over and induced by the swiftness of stars wiped across the sky in strokes of blues, there is no sleepiness to be found. Luminous cerulean meets midnight meets dark and navy, sustaining the onlooking, sky-watching night-prowler.

With the sun nowhere to be found in the sky, he must have claimed a spot at one of the petite, white tables at the cafe. For the dazzling yellow, and luminescent glow that spills onto the street must only be from the sun himself. Completing his descent from high in the sky, east to west, his journey is finished. Now he is sat, fueling from strong espresso, preparing once more to rise in the very hours to come. With the light that he provides, he must insist that even in the nightly hours, there is much life still to be lived.

She who has taken a seat next to the sun is wide awake. She belongs to the elite in France. The ones who sit in cafes all day and night and gaze onward towards the cobblestone streets as a form of entertainment, eyes wandering over those who pass by. She doesn't go to the theater nor the opera house nor does she find herself entering cathedrals on Sundays. Those who choose to flood the streets or aimlessly drift at this hour are enough to satisfy and intrigue her wonder. So she keeps coming back, day and especially night, remembering that Vincent van Gogh once wrote to his sister, "I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day."

I could have been her, had I lived in the nineteenth-century, had I found myself one night wandering into Cafe La Nuit in Arles, a city in southeastern France. I could have been her, one of the faceless earth-toned blobs sat under the canopy, washed over in the warmth of yellow. I would have eyed him in the northeastern corner of the Place du Forum, cloaked by the darkness of shadows. Easel set before him with the slightest of tilt from the wooden legs resting on the uneven cobblestones. I would think, He must be just another weird, wonderful, wanderer of the night. One who finds more life under the glint of the stars rather than by the brightness of the sun. And I would be painted forever into that very starry night.

Yes, I could have been her. But probably not. It takes time to learn to fall in love with the night. To fight against the body's incessant need for sleep. To fight against the inability to see everything as clear as possible. Fighting against the lack of discernible truths and, instead, sitting with the presence of richly-colored illusions. There is maybe no need for clarity during the night. Maybe that is exactly why the cafe is still half full, why the streets are far from abandon, why the sky refuses to completely fade to black. He had never said the night was clearer than the day, only more rich, more alive. We are all alive, the beggar, the wealthy, the in-between, and we are all searching for the richness that can only be found once night falls.

But no, I have not yet learned to love the night.