Random pseudo-intellectual observation
When I was a kid, I used to have this special idea of "late at night." There was of course the insanely late hour of 10 PM, which I got to see occasionally. That was "late," to be sure, but not all that big of a deal. The mysterious, magical "late" was, like, midnight or something. I remember having a sort of quiet respect for that magical, ineffable hour. On the rare occasions when I would wake up at 1 or 2 AM, I felt like some kind of conqueror, an explorer, challenging the frontiers of time and infiltrating a dark and silent realm of night that few ever witnessed. I was the King of the Dark.
I remember in particular once incident where I woke up at 2 or something, and started doing stuff in my room. I guess every kid does that once or twice, but I wasn't just "not tired" or "bored of sleeping" - I was on the cutting edge of Late Night Activity Research, and I was probing the depths of an hour that (as far as I was concerned) the rest of the world didn't know existed. I recall, too, a few years later, spending the night at a friend's place. We were playing old SNES classics and watching corny cable movies. Holy Crap, all of a sudden it's 3 AM... and we're still awake. We stayed up until Really Late At Night, and dammit, we were cool. There was a magic about those quiet hours, a sense of being in a time pocket that few people shared. For a twelve year old kid, that was about as religious as experiences could get.
The magic is gone now. I have no sense of Really Late At Night. Being awake at 4 AM has ceased to be a crazy adventure, challenging the unwritten law that people sleep when it's dark out. Far from being an enigmatic span of time full of potential and mystery, early morning is just another block of hours to fill with getting work done. Perhaps soon I'll be able to fill that time with the kind of fun that I used to, but somehow I think the spell is permanently broken. The naive, wide-eyed wonder of being a kid who's up Really Late At Night is gone.
In a way, it's kind of sad.