Starlit Nights

After reading Toni’s essay on names, I thought I would share the story of this blog’s name.  The name Starlit Nights actually stems from a college miscommunication.

In our senior year at Rutgers–home of the Scarlet Knights–my husband, J. (who was then my boyfriend), took several graduate classes with a professor of Urban Transportation.  This professor was a pretty extraordinary guy.  He got around exclusively on bikes and public transit and was in many other ways admirable and authentic.

One night that spring J. and I went for dinner at the Rutgers Club, a beautiful old house that had been converted into a college alumni restaurant.  Once a week, students could exchange a couple dollars and a meal swipe for the privilege of a sumptuous meal in its second story dining space.

That spring night, we carried our plates downstairs to the buffet and found my husband’s professor right in front of us in line.  As we spooned out fancy sauces and salads and rolls, he told us how he came to be at Rutgers.

Back when the department first approached him about the position, they told him a bit about the university’s long history, including its mascot, but he misheard them.  Instead of Scarlet Knights, he thought they said Starlit Nights.

“I thought it was so poetic,” he said.

In her essay on names, Toni wrote:

Hindu children are given two names at birth. One is the public name, shared with family and friends and the larger community. The other is a secret name.

I’ve always thought of Starlit Nights as one of my secret names.  Behind the public face of the Scarlet Knights, my home state gave me this other, second identity.  And because this other identity feels tied to my life as a writer, I chose it for my blog’s name.


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