When one leaves the house at 2:30am there is a certain quietness to the night.
Deeply relieved to soon have some precious kids back home safely after a 15 hour ordeal on a Greyhound bus on a snowy highway, I was driving downtown with a certain hyper-alertness.
With the usual city buzz muted I felt like I could see more - was noticing more.
I drove familiar roads in unfamiliar quietness - just me and taxi's.
I imagined each taxi carrying a story of its driver and passengers at this late/early hour.
The moon was reflecting on the river - rippling light.
I saw the odd lone walker - head down, coat pulled tight, hood up.... coming or going?
The light from storefronts casting unique patterns over the road.
A chef hanging up his apron and locking the door....lighting a cigarette on the sidewalk.
A car races by me - startling me...breaking the silence.
A young couple weaving along, laughter evident in their posture, stumbling a little.
Suddenly an all night dinner packed full, people milling on the sidewalk waiting for their turn to eat greasy, salty fries or fried eggs.
And then finally at the majestic, old, slightly shabby, station in a tough part of the City.
Waiting with others for exhausted travellers to return - checking phones for messages, keeping the heat running.
More taxi's. More people but these more marginal people, addicted, lost, cold.
And then people spilling out of the doors of the station, looking for their people, making calls, hailing cabs...tired, relieved, frustrated.
My boy and his friends - despondent and exhausted - hugs and hellos, details to fill in the story between text messages, trying to be ok with how things turned out.
We turned for home.
Now more attentive to the rise and fall of breathing and sleeping teens, the glow of screens on their faces, the odd snippet of conversation.
As each arrived home, grateful and ready for their beds they said their thank you's and disappeared into warm house where relieved parents could breathe easy again.
And home. Back to our quiet, deserted street.
A hug, a comforting word, creeping upstairs to a wakeful partner glad to have us home.
And my head on the pillow with a very grateful heart - for safety, for family and a quick prayer for those still out in the night.