For many students, the all-nighter is a dreaded last resort—the path you take when all others have been taken from you, the only choice left when you face your personal failings in the miserable silence of Perkins after midnight. For some, maybe, there’s a hint of excitement to it. A little thrill that comes along with staying up past your bedtime, seeing the campus at its darkest and emptiest, watching Duke as it enters the witching hour.
But there are some students who are better acquainted with the all-nighter—not as a last resort, but as an art and a science, a begrudging piece of the routine. For better or for worse, we count ourselves among this set. A year at the helm of The Chronicle will do that to you, and after our semesters of late-night breaking news and 4 a.m. layout checks, the two of us know all too well what it’s like to watch the sun rise over a pile of uncompleted homework and empty coffee cups. And no matter how accustomed you are to the all-nighter, no matter how well-integrated it is into your routine, there’s a tinge of frustration that never goes away: the incessant thrum of why didn’t I do this sooner, why didn’t I plan ahead, why do I do this to myself. The fatigue grows familiar, but it never gets pleasant, and eventually you find yourself standing in front of your overused dorm room Keurig, brewing coffee with Red Bull instead of water, hoping that it’s effective and praying that it doesn’t kill you. (Obviously, we’ve never done that. Obviously.)
Of course, there are a few perks to the practice. Even the cushiest Perkins spots (we're looking at you, Bostock bridge chairs) tend to clear out and open up around 2 a.m., and there’s never a line for tater tots at Pitchforks (sorry, we’ll never call it “Café Edens”). And no matter how overwhelmed and exhausted you are, seeing the sun rise over the Chapel is always beautiful.
The best part of it, though, is the weird unspoken camaraderie that develops. There’s a sort of kinship you feel when you encounter someone else trudging to the Link’s vending machines at 5 a.m. or pacing dorm hallways in order to stay awake. A mutual acknowledgement that it sucks, yes, but also that you’re all in it together. Maybe that’s messed up, but it’s also—a little bit—beautiful.
Get some sleep,
Emma + Nick