Sammy Nickalls
February 28, 2015 9:10 pm

This past 4th of July, a bunch of my friends and I went to go see some fireworks.

This wasn’t a particularly remarkable event in itself; the six of us have been friends for years, and it was 4th of July, when everyone ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ over things blowing up.

As we sat in our lawn chairs in the park, we watched the little glowing embers skyrocket above our heads, then burst into dazzling, shimmering colors. We headed to a friend’s house to have a drink or two, though we didn’t really need it—we were high on summer, the afterimages of the lights still dancing in front of our eyes and the booms echoing in our eardrums.

And so the night truly began.

Our faces got a little redder and our eyes a little brighter; someone plugged in their iPhone into the stereo, and we started jokingly fighting over who would DJ. We sang along to songs as loud as we possibly could, putting down our drinks to dance, running to the back door and swinging it open so we could take the conversations to the porch and feel the summer warmth on our bare legs under the stars.

Eventually, as always happens during nights of frivolity, we started pairing off to have deeper conversations. I ended up sitting with my good friend in the kitchen, deep in conversation.

I had known this guy since middle school, and I had considered him one of my best friends for years. But suddenly, I looked at him in an entirely different way—at his slightly ruffled brown hair that matched his smiling eyes as he wildly threw his arms up in the air in an emphatic, impassioned gesture to support his point. It was 3AM, and somehow, my normally reserved friend had let all of his inhibitions down completely, baring his soul to me, telling me about his passions, his views on life and why we’re living it.

Since that very first day I had met him in 7th grade math class, I had always known that my friend was unique, and there was something about him that drew me to him, that made me want him to be my friend. But as I listened to him speak, I felt something break down between us. At that moment, as he spoke with such an impassioned grin, with his love for life lighting up his face, I truly saw how beautiful his soul really is.

Though I had known my friend for a solid decade, it was that night when I started to realize that if I had truly known him as well as I thought I did, I would have been head over heels for him for all of those years. As he spoke, I felt myself unabashedly adoring every single part of what made him him. It took me ten years to realize that my friend was who I wanted to be with, but only one late night conversation to open my eyes to how truly, unequivocally amazing he really is. And now, dating him, it feels like I’m living in one of those late night conversations 24/7.

Have you ever wondered why the absolute best, deepest conversations always happen late at night? There’s a reason why romance begins with conversations over text at 2AM.

There are barriers that we all put up during the day, that guard our deepest thoughts and passions, that keep us from truly knowing one another. When businesses close their doors in the evening and the world quiets down for sleep, we are able to let those barriers down, bit by bit, and display who we really are.

When the world is asleep, our souls are awake. We are able to be who we would be without society’s barriers. We’re able to skip the necessary pleasantries, the chats about the weather, the practicalities of bills and student loan payments and doctor’s appointments, and get right to the marrow of it all.

We’re able to open up our senses and temporarily cast aside any doubts about ourselves—to truly begin to take a step back from all of the meaningless day-to-day responsibilities and notice the beauty of what’s been in front of us all this time.

At 3AM, we’re able to live. And at 3AM, as I looked into my now-boyfriend’s eyes, I was able to find what I had been looking for all this time.

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