3AM Cards

Originally uploaded by National Library NZ.
The 3AM Card.
Everyone should have one.

Ironically, the people that are more likely to have ‘em are those in 12-step programs. The regular Joe’s tend not to even know what I am talking about as we live in a country that has made an art form of de-humanized, disconnected, isolation. As someone recently said on Twitter, “ I am debating whether I should stop following strangers on Twitter .. but isn't that the whole point?” Friends with everybody and nobody is your friend. They don’t have 3AM cards, though.

”What is this mysterious thing of which you speak?”

It is nothing less than the unspoken code between the closest of close that no mater what time of day or night, even if it is 3AM, you can call on one another. It’s like a personal Bat Signal. Oh that it could only be something as cool though as a spotlight that I could flash with a “3AM” and they would slide down their hidden poles, into rocket powered black behemoths (the current day SUV) to screech at my front door, beer in hand. But text messaging and email comes in a close second, even if it is not as dramatic. Of course there always is that pedestrian form of communication some call the tele-o-phone.

”Under what circumstances would some one use such a powerful device?”

It tends to be in dyer circumstance that it is used most often. What defines dyer to a particular circumstance depends on the individual. I was once summoned via secret red tele-o-phone by a friend who’s wife was at work while he was deftly ill to the point that he no longer had any idea where his children were. It wasn’t 3AM, more like 4PM, but when I got to his house, the door was open with kids coming and going like Oompa Loompas while he was curled up in his daughter’s bed in a haze of fever, dehydration, and a half eaten Egg McMuffin. I took note of his vitals, then asked him what exactly his children were supposed to be doing and had they eaten? His sense of time was lost so he had no idea. I spent the next few hours playing Mr. Mom, cooking dinner for the three little tornados and making sure my mate hadn’t passed out, checking on homework. Eventually, his wife got home and after small talk I was off.

I most recently played my card the other day. I have so many moving pieces in my life that I am trying to navigate – as if my whole landscape was in flux inside and out – and I simply knew that I had nothing left in me to keep at it. Not so much suicidal (“only in the morning” says Rusty in “Ocean’s 11) but at the end of my rope. If I were an alcoholic I would have cashed in my sobriety chip and drowned myself in drinks. There comes a point, when I can no longer see how to move forward and need friends to be eyes and ears, or simply tell me, “No, you are not crazy. This is where you are supposed to be.” Actually, 99% of the time it is the latter. I am pretty aware of where I am in the journey, but I need mates to remind that I haven’t lost my mind along the way. So I did the other night. And so my mates grabbed some beer, we met at a quiet place and they walked through my story with me. Nothing necessarily was solved, but things were less messy, and I came home knowing I wasn’t alone on the journey. Though I did joke with them that Frank Black was on to something when he sang ”You can’t crucify yourself, no it takes two. Maybe you could use some help and if you do just say you do.”

”Who makes up such an elite response team?”

Funny enough, it is usually only a few – two maybe three people – in any given space. Contrary to our Facebook Friend quotas - usually made up of acquaintances, re-connected childhood friends and then a few close mates – intimacy and 3AM cards are found amongst the small numbers. It isn’t human to have tons of close friends and even the phrase “tons of close friends” is an oxymoron. There is nothing wrong with them but let’s face it, who of them can you play a 3AM card and know they got your back?

One of the signature qualities in such a crew is trust – in their mental/emotional/spiritual health, their sense of self, etc. There is tremendous freedom when I can put it all on the table and know that no one in the room is going to be threatened by what I say, react with the need to give answers because they need to fulfill some latent family dynamic from their childhood or quietly stew in resentment and anger only to hit me over the head with it months down the road. There is safety in healthy people, in small numbers. And the in the right company there is a good kind of danger too.

The 3AM card.
Everybody should have one.
What’s in your wallet?
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